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Big Bird's Swan Song

When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand
Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:4-5,8-9,10,14; I Thessalonians 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28,34-36

Sermon Week First Sunday of Advent Cycle C

Scripture Summary Luke 21:28

In case you haven’t heard, Caroll Spinney is retiring. This giant of a man who touched the lives of countless millions of children is finally flying the coop. Put another way, he’s ready to sing his “Swan Song.” We don’t know if he’s migrating to Pelican Bay for the winter or if he’ll join the next flight to the Canary Islands, but we can be sure of this: throughout his career, he’s had a wonderful bird’s eye view of the world. So why, you ask does Mr. Spinney call forth such fanciful flights of imagination? It’s because Caroll Spinney is the man who for 50 years, has given life to the character Big Bird (and Oscar the Grouch) on the famed children’s television series “Sesame Street.” Now almost 85, Mr. Spinney announced in September that he’s hanging up his big orange bird legs and retiring from “Sesame Street.” When asked what the most difficult part of his job has been, the unflappable Mr. Spinney chirped, “my arms get tired!”

The report of Mr. Spinneys’ retirement reminds me of a little parable called the "Fable of the Birds." In this creation story, all the newly-made animals are walking around discovering what it is like to be alive -- all except the birds! They do nothing but complain about the heavy burden God has given them that he's given no other animal: those awkward appendages on their shoulders that are always making them tired. They think God must be punishing them somehow. Why did they have to carry these things around, making it so hard to walk? "Why?" they ask. "Why us?" Finally, two or three of the more adventurous birds begin to move their appendages. They begin to flutter their wings and soon discover that the very thing they regarded as a burden made it possible for them to fly as no other creature can. And what they thought was a heavy burden is transformed into a beautiful gift.

Many of us act like those unenlightened birds. We regard God's call to obedience as an awkward appendage in our lives – something that [...]

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