Living Symbols: The Tale of Two Fowl Cousins

Wild turkey in field image

By Joe Henriques, @MBCTysons Campus Pastor

The time has come once again to remember the tale of two fowl cousins: The bald eagle and the turkey. Back when America was very young, there was a lot of talk about the turkey. That’s because our founders were trying to figure out which bird qualified to become the symbol of this newborn nation.

National Symbol
Benjamin Franklin had suggested, “How about the turkey?” To him, the bald eagle’s distant cousin was perhaps a better choice. He wrote to his daughter, “For the Truth, the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original Native of America…He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”

Good points. But as we know, the bald eagle won the votes to stand as our national symbol, representing the moral fiber of America. We feel good when we see the bald eagle sitting majestically high on the branch of a tree.

The Blessings Symbol
We feel even better when we see the turkey sitting on a plate in the middle of our table. For a different reason, of course! And it isn’t just because the turkey tastes so good! It’s because the turkey has come to represent the blessings of God. In the early 1600s, the newly arrived Pilgrims and Native Americans joined each other in fellowship around the table, to thank God for bringing them through the ruthless winter and harsh realities of beginning life in a new world. From that first Thanksgiving until now, the turkey stands as the symbol of blessing.

As we offered our boxes of turkey dinners at Turkey Outreach on Saturday, we were saying to those who received them, “In Christ’s name, we offer this blessing of God to you.” As we gather with families and friends on Thanksgiving Day for feasting and football, we push pause on the festivities to offer heartfelt gratitude to our great God, “Father, in Jesus’ name, we thank you for the liberality of your love, mercy, and faithfulness, given to us and to our nation, in spite of our clear unworthiness. Amen!”

God’s Symbols
What symbol has God chosen to represent the magnificent qualities of our Savior Jesus Christ and the vastness of his amazing blessings? The choice wasn’t a tough one for God. He chose his children: That’s you and me. He chose us. We, the people of God are his living symbols to represent the brilliancy of His moral character and the grandeur of His generosity. Peter, the Apostle, wrote: “Show others the goodness of God…proclaim…and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light!” I Peter 2:9 (NLT, NASB, and Amplified Bible).

So, let the celebrations of Thanksgiving begin! Be the symbol of God to those around you. May others see, taste, feel, smell and hear of God’s love and blessing through you! During this time in America’s history, our nation is in great need for these truths of God.

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