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God put all the different parts into one body on purpose. If all the parts were alike, where would the body be? ~ 1 Corinthians 12:19

Wings are fascinating. They come in a variety of shapes, each designed to exploit something different. Tiny humming bird wings are like daggers, it is their ability to swivel so they get thrust with each stroke that enables the bird to hover and dart, even backwards. Large, broad Buteo wings, like those of a Red-tailed Hawk, give good lift at the cost of more precise maneuverability. For that feature, the longer wings of Accipiters, like Cooper’s Hawks, are needed. Accipiters are more than happy deep in the woods since they can easily avoid the mass of branches. While Buteos are fonder of fields and roadsides since they need open space to leap into off their perch in order to take off. For real speed, look the falcons with their long, pointed wings. But the wings are most effective for speed when they are tucked away so the streamlined bird can use gravity to stoop on their prey midair. Stretching skinny wings to the limit, Albatrosses are able to glide just above surface of the water for hours at a time without moving a muscle. They are so good at gliding that they can actually sleep on the wing. Over land, Turkey Vultures use a similar tactic, curling their wings upward and holding them steady, they ride on warm air currents. The ends of their wings have long feathers that they can spread and control individually, making subtle adjustments to maintain their soaring patterns.

One thing all those wings have in common is that not one of them accomplishes what it is designed to do if there is only one of them. It takes two wings to fly. Not only that, but each feather is important. You’ve heard of having your wings clipped. That metaphor is based on the practice of cutting some wing feathers to prevent a captive bird from escaping. It only requires shortening a handful of feathers to make flight impossible. The well-known metaphor for the church is a body of many parts. If every body part were the same, well, then it would just be a collection of whatever part that is. By definition, the body is a collection of different parts, each of which is necessary. It really doesn’t matter how big of a role the part plays, it will be missed when that function is needed.

The lesson is quite simple and yet so very hard to hear in our polarized society, a bird requires both the left wing and the right wing to fly.

Prayer: Christ, forgive your body for cutting off the nose to spite the face. Amen.


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