Since we’re so close to Thanksgiving, today I want to talk to you about turkeys. Wild turkeys, that is, not the kind of turkeys we eat at Thanksgiving. Did you know that the Pilgrims actually brought some turkeys with them on the boat? Anyway, my interest in turkeys is just part of my interest in wildlife. I’ve always been a city boy and I still get excited when I see things like deer and turkeys roaming around in the wild. Snakes excite me too but not in a good way.
Unlike domesticated turkeys, wild turkeys are smart. They are also very sociable. They hang around in groups. They play together. And the older ones teach the younger ones everything they need to know about being a turkey.
When I lived in Iowa, I would drive by a small corn field on the way to church and every Fall there would be at least one bunch of turkeys grazing on corn that had fallen to the ground during the harvest. In West Texas, though, the turkeys don’t have the luxury of corn fields. I guess I don’t really know what they normally eat, but I do know that they like acorns. I’ve seen a group of turkeys gathered around a tree eating acorns. And when the supply of acorns runs low, one of the turkeys flies up into the tree and starts thrashing around to knock down more acorns. See, I said they were pretty smart. After awhile, the turkey will jump down from the tree to eat some acorns and another turkey will take its place in the tree. It’s all part of living in community as turkeys.
So what do turkeys have to teach us about being a Christian? Well, when Jesus founded the church, he basically told us to be like turkeys. He didn’t say it exactly that way but he did expect us to be in community with one another. He expected us to worship together. He expected us to play together. He expected us to teach each other how to be a Christian. He expected us to take turns doing the work of “shaking the tree” so that everyone can get a share of the acorns. And he expected us to be sociable enough that others would want to join our group.
Benjamin Franklin once wrote a letter to his daughter in which he compared the Bald Eagle and the turkey. Basically, he said that the Bald Eagle looked good on the outside, but that it only cared about itself and was both a coward and a thief. On the other hand, Ben praised the turkey for all of the things that I mentioned. It’s like that for us as Christians too. It doesn’t matter if you look more like a turkey than an eagle, it’s what’s inside that counts. That’s what God sees in us and that’s what other people will experience through our actions.