Give a hoot.

September 30, 2010

The Great Horned Owl is one of my favorite birds, one which I rarely see.  But a change in the barometric pressure will sometimes creat enough discomfort that they will talk about it with one another.    He says, “Hoo,hoo-oo. hoo’ hoo.”   She responds, in a lower voice, “Hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo-oo, hoo-oo.”   I drift off to sleep listening to them.  They change trees from time to time, and would certainly stop chatting if a field mouse or rabbit happened along.

The hooting of the great horned owl is one of the best sleep inducing sounds I know of.  I rarely if ever lie awake after they have finished their conversation.

Then there is the crow.  Owls will kill and eat them if they happen to find them sleeping, and I can understand why.  Whereas the owls language and habits facilitates restfulness (except for the field mice) the crow is a raucous, noise, nosy bird.  They usually wake me in the morning with their strident songs at sunrise, hollering at one another like a bunch of second graders, in a competition to see who can irritate mom the fastest.

I know both birds play a role in God’s gift to us.  But I like owls.

However, which bird am I most likely to resemble when I am in the company of non-believers; when I am with someone who doesn’t know Jesus?  Do I raise a cacophony of clattering  church-speak, or does my speech bring peace, the ability to relax and listen with joy and hope?

Sometimes we forget what we sound like when we share the Good News, when we bring the Gospel of Peace, or when we are simply trying to be a light in the darkness.  I think sometimes we get rather crowish, rather obnoxious.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”  (1 Corinthians 13:1)  I like the Living Bible, that says, “…but if I don’t have love I am just making noise.”

Of course the crow and the owl use the only voices they have been given.  A crow could not sound like an owl if it wanted too, and vise-versa.  But we have a choice.  We can decide if we want to make a joyful noise or just noise.  We can be the sweet sound of salvation or the jangle of judgment.

As we interact with others, we can (we must) choose to care about those far from God.

We must give a hoot.  Being more intelligent than an owl or crow we can shape our sound as well as our words so that those  with whom we speak  want to hear more.

A good play, or storyteller, or piece of music leaves us wanting more.  As followers of Jesus one of our prayers should be, “Lord, let them want to talk more about this.”  I am reminded of Paul’s conversation with King Agrippa.  (Acts 16)   The king was almost persuaded to become a Christian with just one conversation. Certainly if Paul had been boring or boorish he would not have had that effect on Agrippa.

We can make a positive difference in our conversations and interactions with those far from God.  We can move them closer with speech that offers hope and love.

If we give a hoot.

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