Birds or people, God's diversity blesses us
Written by Richard Clough
May 2000


May is THE month if you're a bird watcher. The migrating birds are at their peak and many, many species either arrive for the summer or spend a few days on their journeys to Canada and northern Michigan. Of particular interest to me and many birders are the warblers. There are several dozen species of these little birds that visit here, each with distinctive markings and songs. They are often colorful and it's a thrill to sight one of these beautiful birds.
      In the past week, I've seen some of the more common ones: the black-and-white warbler, the yellow warbler and the yellow-rumped warbler. I've also been fortunate in getting a glimpse of the bright orange Blackburnian warbler as well as a palm warbler. Just yesterday, while walking through Holliday Park, I got a good look at a blackthroated blue warbler. Ten minutes later, I saw a blackthroated green.
      To others, this may not be thrilling, but to us birders these are moments of near ecstasy.
      According to Genesis 1, God created birds on the fifth day. Responding to this, an editor of my birding magazine observed: "The first four days must have been pretty boring." I tend to agree.
      Birds are one of God's more extraordinary gifts because of their diversity. There are hundreds of species, each one having its own beauty and charm.
      A single species with a diverse appetite might have filled the ecological niche. But instead, God gives us hundreds of kinds of birds. We are the better for God's lavishness.
      The United Church of Christ has declared that we are a multiracial and multicultural church. This means many things, but at the heart of it is a belief that we are blessed by God with a diversity of culture, race and heritage, each group having a beauty that enriches the whole. How sad if we were a people of one culture, one race, one heritage. Like the first four days of creation, that would be very boring.
      What does it mean for us to tie into the concept of a multiracial, multicultural church?
      Part of the answer is simply how we look at ourselves, to see ourselves in need of the gifts of people of diverse colors and cultures. We are enriched when we share life with those whose cultural background differs from ours.
      God has blessed us with a richness of humanity, no two alike, each bearing gifts that contribute to the whole.
      It's great to live in such a world.

The Rev. Richard Clough is pastor of First Congregational UCC in Indianapolis. Focus on Faith is a reader-written column of stories and ideas to help readers grow in their faith. We welcome contributions from laity and clergy.

 Focus on Faith is a reader-written column of stories and ideas to help readers grow in their faith. The Rev. Lawrence A. Q. Burnley is Executive for Racial and Ethnic Constituency Education and Development for the United Church Board for World Ministries. Focus on Faith is a reader-written column of stories and ideas to help readers grow in their faith.

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