Murmuration. A glorious term for word geeks. What the word describes, though, is far more of a wonder. A murmuration is the mass movement of a flock of birds. Far from the rudiments of travelling from A to B, it is a ballet of wings performed on the limitless stage of a sky. Hundreds – even thousands – of birds swoop first one way, then instantly, another. They soar then dive; billow then taper.
Painted large across autumn-through-winter skies in the day’s dying light, a murmuration is seemingly flying for the sheer joy of it; the beauty of it. Why birds do this remains a mystery. One surmising is that it is a means of guarding against predators. Another, is that it is a drawing together for warmth before roosting. Yet the vast scale of this aerial acrobatics appears far beyond such pragmatic drivings.
The breathtaking act is most associated with an unremarkable bird: the common garden starling. A bird that is not big, yet not small. Not unattractive, yet not striking. The beauty of the event lies not in the individual bird but in the perfectly synchronized performance of the collective. Each bird perfectly distanced, moving in precise unison of speed, direction and movement. Never once does one bird cross into the path of another.
Maybe the beauty of this event of nature is what God had in mind for those He calls to be His children; when He calls us to be united as brothers and sisters in family. Because, as Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 12 and in Ephesians 4, our most effective impact as believers is as we unite in the body, living and working together, shoulder to shoulder, each using their unique gifts in complement to express the love of Christ.
How beautiful might the Bride of Christ appear if we allowed the Holy Spirit to guide us to live in community fully in this way.
Like a murmuration, it would give cause for a watching world to stand back in wonder.
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
EPHESIANS 4: 15-16