It’s a strange word, murmuration. Apparently, it can be traced back to the 15th century, when it was used as a noun, but no-one seems to know why it came into being. The word is now used to describe the synchronised movement of a large flock of starlings. It’s truly amazing to watch, such as, the huge displays currently taking place in the Lake District, and shown on the BBC news recently.
But what’s is going on? Well, according to the RSPB’s web-site:
We think that starlings do it for many reasons. Grouping together offers safety in numbers – predators such as peregrine falcons find it hard to target one bird in the middle of a hypnotising flock of thousands. They also gather to keep warm at night and to exchange information, such as good feeding areas. They gather over their roosting site, and perform their wheeling stunts before they roost for the night. It’s completely breathtaking to witness!
I reckon we can learn a lot from the birds. Grouping together for safety and protecting one another sounds like a good plan. Being warm towards one another and helping exchange information, particularly on how we share food. Entertaining, whilst putting on dazzling displays of human kindness sounds much better than the language of exclusion, warmongering and selfishness that can be picked up from the media these days. After all, just like the birds, God made us for societal living and not for an excluded existence.
For sure, there are times to withdraw and retreat into solitude, particularly to find God in the quietness. But God also made us for one another. There are many bible verses to support this but one of my favourites is Romans 12:16:-
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
The reason I picked this verse is because, although many others could support my belief that God made us for one another; as Christians, we may be tempted to think of that being in the church and nowhere else. God loves His church and is building his church. However, I was struck by a staggering statistic the other day: approximately 95% of the people in the world today do not profess to be Christian. What does that mean for those of us who are?
It certainly can’t mean that God does not care about 95% of the people he created. Therefore, it must mean that we are invited to join him in reaching out to even the people of lowest positions in our society.
Like the starlings, in their murmuration, we can group together with those who need our protection and warmth in such a manner that God, the choreographer, is pleased to watch our displays of human love and compassion, reflecting His love, and drawing men and women, boys and girls, refugees and rejected, into relationship with him. What a joy to witness that!
A Prayer of St Apollonius (170-245)
O Lord Jesus Christ, give us a measure of your Spirit that we may be enabled to obey your teaching: to pacify anger, to take part in pity, to moderate desire, to increase love, to put away sorrow, to cast away vain glory, not to be vindictive, not to fear death; ever entrusting our spirit to the immortal God who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns world without end.
A Prayer of John Calvin (1509-1564)
Lord, save us from being self-centred in our prayers and teach us to remember to pray for others. May we be so bound up in love with those for whom we pray, that we may feel their needs as acutely as our own, and interceded for them with sensitivity, with understanding and with imagination.