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Lift Up and Listen

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

~John 12:32

It is hard to miss migrating Sandhill Cranes. Not only are they very large birds, they often fly in large groups, and in flight they can be quite loud. In fact, the shrill, creaky bugling calls are often what first alerts their approach when they are still not yet visible. Many birds call when they are migrating, some more than others, with the effect of staying in touch with others of their species. Who knows what they are saying, likely it is the equivalent of “this way, everyone,” or perhaps it is as simple as encouragement to keep up and keep on.

Unfortunately, there is an apparent correlation between the more vocal migrants and urban window strikes. It seems that the cohesiveness of migrating flocks responding to the calls of their peers means that when one finds themself in a dangerous cityscape filled with glass, they will not be alone.

Jesus said that he would be lifted up in order to draw the whole world to him. It is tempting to picture Jesus like a magnificent crane rising up and blowing the trumpet announcing that it is time to follow him into the skies. In fact, that is how the Second Coming is generally pictured. But that is far from the scene of the first coming. When Jesus is lifted on the cross, he calls to us not triumphantly but rather speaks words of love and forgiveness. Even feeling completely abandoned he finds the strength to beg for our forgiveness, for truly we don’t know what we are doing.

So maybe those plaintive night flight calls of migrant birds might translate into “I am not alone, right? You are coming with me, aren’t you?” Or at least, that is what we hear when we listen to the one who was lifted up on the cross.

Prayer: Great Guide, we hear you calling, leading us into dangerous places. Remind us that you go there first and even death can’t keep us from your love. Amen.


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