I had a new visitor Christmas morn.
While my bride battled a head cold on the sofa near the Christmas tree (one of seven displayed throughout our home), I brewed my morning coffee as the rain-soaked sky continued to gloomy-gus over our hamlet. Listening to the Keurig spit out my favorite Dark Magic blend (wish Green Mountain would choose a less nefarious name), I took my watch at the kitchen window to see the haps at the feeder. In that moment I noticed an unfamiliar addition to our backyard collection.
A genteel cowbird perched there amid raindrops, for all the world like she owned the place. Only, I’d never seen one in our yard before this.
Immediately, I went to the old bookcase (my iPad) and pulled a volume from the row of World Book encyclopedias (Google) to study what I could glean on the subject of brown-headed cowbirds.
I learned the female cowbird spends its energy on laying eggs, not building nests. And she’ll lay a lot! She’ll place her eggs in other birds’ nests (ranging from as many as 140-220 other host species), hoping her young will be favorably treated and cared for.
Just so, the Christmas blessing: God placed His Son in the borrowed ‘nest’ of a young woman who raised Jesus as her own, treasuring her Gift and releasing Him for His eternal work of redemption, desiring all to choose the Son of God.
I also discovered that many momma birds who get wise to the insertion of an alien egg will destroy it or cast it out. A female warbler might even construct a new nest on top of the original one now bearing the undesired foreigner. This reminded me that Jesus was “despised and rejected” by many (still the case) and “there was no beauty found in Him that earth-dwellers should desire Him.”1
One last τυπος (type) I uncovered from the cowbird’s relation to the message of Advent has to do with the Advent that we now long for: the return of Messiah to establish His visible Kingdom of righteousness and justice and rule over the nations of the earth.
It probably shouldn’t shock you to learn that mother cowbirds have been known to visit the nests of the birds that mistreated and rejected her young and completely destroy their dwellings. Um, I’ll just leave this right here and let you draw your own conclusions.
All this got me thinking: I wonder, amid the oxen and sheep, a donkey or two, and perhaps a spare milk-cow, there might not have been some birds flitting quietly about at the feeding-trough that Silent Night in Bethlehem.
I wonder if the Father might not have arranged to have a momma cowbird among the manger’s visitors. If the young parents of their firstborn had noticed, they might have understood more of the significance of that bundle. Perhaps, perhaps not. All I know is I saw it (again) this Christmas morn.
1 See Isaiah 53:2,3