The Word on the Week

Swallows and Martins

These birds have the delightful habit of congregating on the electricity wires which run diagonally across the field in front of our house.   The spectacle only lasts for a couple of weeks, always at this time of year.  Both are of the same species and have much in common.

Their melodic twittering as the make their travel plans sweeten the air.   Within the next couple of weeks, they will be heading South for the exact location in sub-Sahara Africa which they left in the Spring.    The birds which travel the furthest North to these Islands and Scandinavia are the long distance fliers travelling to South Africa to enjoy their second summer of the year!   

To prepare themselves for the journey they have been indulging themselves in a feeding frenzy.    This is when the insects get blown out of the trees into the flight path of the birds.   They are at their acrobatic best zipping past each other as they scoop up the food in their widely gaping mouths.    Drinking too is done on the wing as they skin across the water, their beaks sipping the surface.

Both Swallows and Martins make their nests out of mud.   The Martin encloses his with only a small access hole.   The Swallow makes a more conventional cup nest adding bits of straw to bind the mud.    Apparently they have a preference for nesting in open-fronted sheds alongside cattle and horses.   Most Swallows try to rear two broods each summer and some succeed in raising three if there is a warm Autumn.

These birds are equipped with tiny feet making them unsuitable to land on the ground.   The writer of Proverbs uses this inability to land as an illustration.    He dismisses an undeserved curse saying it does not alight (Proverbs Chapter 26 verse 2).  

There is a curse which did alight.   We inherited it from Adam.   It was the result of the fall when the earth was cursed (Genesis Chapter 3 verse 17).     We bear the curse.   We have the weeds and thorns which are its emblems to live with.   We needed ‘the second man from heaven’ Jesus Christ to do all that Adam failed to do (1 Corinthians Chapter 15 verses 22/26).  

Looking to Christ’s finished work, the third verse of his hymn ‘Joy to the World’ Isaac Watts puts it well:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
he comes to make his blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as, far as the curse is found.

Let all who follow the work of our Redeemer sing with the Swallows as we look to forward the new heaven and new earth the home of righteousness (2 Peter Chapter 3 verse 13).