A word of caution to my tender-hearted animal loving friends: pictures of chicken butchery will be found below. (Although there’s a good deal more pictures that can’t be shown.)
A quick peek into my human resume before this weekend would have revealed a distinct lack of experience in butchery of anything but fish. That changed on my first full day as pastor of Woodland Community Church, even before I’d set foot in the church building.
It was “meat bird” day at Mike’s, a church member. Forty birds awaited quick and humane sacrifice for the good of the human community. I’d known the plan for months and asked to be included.
Chickens had to be snatched from the pen, arranged on a stump, so that two nails would hold the head, quickly dispatched with a buck knife or machete, hung to bleed, submerged in boiling water, then run through the electric plucker that made feathers fly.
Nothing flippant or disrespectful about it. All serious, interesting, but very curious work. Fight revulsion by grabbing your first bird without thinking about it. Let your new friends teach you. Today’s the day for that. Tomorrow you’ll preach, but this bond in blood must first be entered.
When I’d severed the head from my first animal, my new friend Mike grew suddenly serious. “Gives you a new understanding of what Old Testament sacrifice must have been like, doesn’t it?”
I stood with my bloody knife still in hand … It did. Blood had been spilled, and, as life is in the blood, life had been sacrificed for a higher cause.
We worked quickly then. Not much skill needed out in the yard. More skilled workers (than I) dressed and bagged the birds in the garage. I took a short turn there as well, so as to share in every part of the operation. A kind of joyful, serious fellowship grew throughout the afternoon. We shared lunch (chili, not chicken). I was, and remain, the stranger, then not yet two days in town. But, we’d shared something. They told me of the twenty acres down the road, for sale. “Maybe, you ought to look at it,” they said. Were they serious? I’m not sure …
As much as Saturday helped me know my Old Testament better, there’s New Testament truth here as well. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13).
There’s a fellowship for all who know Christ and His Gospel work.
This bond includes knowledge of Jesus’ sacrificial work on the cross, carried out in blood and toward the higher purposes of the Father. For those united under Christ’s blood, there is serious but joyful work. Table fellowship will be found here. New members will join those who have grown up in the fellowship. There’s learning here, and humility.
And, for me, a new community. Sunday turned out to be good too, but Saturday made for a really grand start.