A couple of weeks ago we were on the Isle of Wight for the day, and (being the people we are) decided towards the end of the day to find the nearest bird hide before heading back on the ferry. We parked, did a slightly bewildered and disorientated circle, and then, courtesy of a helpful passer-by, eventually found the right path. As we walked resolutely towards our goal, we passed several people carrying the tell-tale signs of birders – binoculars and telescopes. Seeing us, they immediately asked if we were going to the hide, because they wanted to share the exciting news that there were a pair of (rare) pied flycatchers in the rather majestic pine beside it. We have found generally that it is a trait of birders that they want to share information – something I think about the added delight of the enthusiasm of others.
When we got to the hide though, we found it was shut. We could hear conversation inside, but despite firmly trying the door, it was clearly locked to us. We could only assume that there were the favoured few within, perhaps part of some special event, but that we were not welcome to join it. We rather sadly walked away.
It occurs to me that as Christians we can be like either of those two groups. We can be delighted to share with others all we have, to invite them to join us even if they don’t have the right things with them or got a little lost on the way. Or we can enjoy all we have received and yet – by our attitudes – keep others out. That is a tragedy, and a travesty of what we are meant to be. God is a God of hospitality and welcome.
As it happens, we got to see the flycatchers anyway. God is like that of course – he will find a way to reach out to weary travellers. How much better though, if we join him in it…