Have you ever seen a barn swallow nest? We have barn swallows that nest on both of our porches so we can watch and study them from the living room and the class room. Let me share with you what we have learned about the family of barn swallows and what the family of Believers can learn from them.
First of all, it takes a whole crew of at least five adult birds to build the mud nest. Once the nest is built they seem to watch over the nest and the area for several days, perhaps for potential predators or dangers. Then, they lay the eggs. Once eggs are in the nest there is always one bird that stands guard over the eggs and keeps them warm, two more that stay on guard somewhere nearby, maybe perched on a window sill or gutter. If the one on the eggs needs a break one of the other swallows will take her place while she goes to eat, then rushes back. While that one takes her place another mysterious swallow appears and takes the place of the one that moved to the eggs.
Once the eggs are hatched the same process continues except that now they all take turns feeding the babies. They literally move in a rotational form, moving from post to post. One will go grab food and fly back to the nest to feed while the one that was at the nest moves into the next position. We began to notice something even more amazing. Off in the distance in nearby trees there were so many other swallows perched, watching and waiting. We began to recognize the birds. We also began to notice how intricate their system was. These guard birds seem to hang out in the perimeter watching the outer zone for threats as well as watching out to see if the inside birds need a break. When one of the insiders needs a break, they swoop out, the next layer of protection moves in, and then the outer perimeter moves in to take the place of the second layer.
One of the jobs of the second layer is to watch the babies as they grow and begin to test the waters. If they get to close to the edge of the nest and occasionally nearly fall out, one of the birds from the second layer swoops in and pushes them back in the nest until they are ready to fly the coop. While that bird swoops in to save them, another bird from the outer perimeter swiftly moves into that birds position. They truly are amazing creatures.
What can we learn from this? It takes a whole family to raise a flock. It takes several layers of support and protection. Everyone in the family takes part in feeding them, raising them, protecting them and then helping them prepare for the real world. As God's family we must raise our children and families in the same way. This includes the children in our Church family. We all have a role to play and that role can change.
By: Ann Lindholm, Liberty Cross Ranch