... and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son... " -Luke 3:22 Some of you may remember that we've been involved this year in a church start-up; it's been some of the most joy-filled hard work we've ever done; but, there has been absolutely no doubt whatsoever that we've been Spirit-led every step of the way! We have certainly been blessed. We are a small church of 34 members. This past Saturday evening we welcomed everyone to our home for a Christmas Open House, hopefully the first of many for Grace Lutheran Church! I had planned, organized, dusted, vacuumed and cooked (and cooked and cooked!) ahead of time in preparation. We eagerly opened the front door to our first guests in the late afternoon, right after I had carefully placed all the food offerings on, and around, the dining room table. Hannes started in barking and carrying on like we'd never seen before. He was dancing on his hind legs in circles on the rug in our foyer, all the while intermittently crying and yelping. Now, if this sort of behavior had gone on where I had just placed the goodies that would have been one thing, but he wasn't there at all, it just didn't make any sense. Mr. Goodneedle quickly scooped him up and banished him to his crate in the back of our home. We would analyze his state of mind later; after our guests departed. More guests filled our home in the next few minutes; filing in, hanging up their coats and visiting with each other. The fellowship was wonderful. I swiftly stepped to the front door again, in response to the doorbell, just in time to be dive-bombed by... A CHICKADEE! The bird swooped down close to my head after leaving our front hall chandelier, hovered a second and flitted to the top of the grandfather clock! I was dumbfounded. I called to my husband, he grabbed a towel and followed the bird to a silk Ficus tree at the top of the second floor landing. He was unsuccessful in capturing it at that point, our friends continued to arrive, and I decided right then and there to station myself at the entrance to the dining room at avert any aerial assaults around the food stations. For quite some time after that the unwelcome flying guest went missing. My husband put a Christmas movie on for the children to watch in our converted attic space theater room. This is where the bird was located. Two men armed with an extended handle squeegee and a towel managed a humane capture and subsequent release. The party continued without a hitch after that. The next day I noticed "guess who" sitting in the wreath on our front door! The puzzle pieces began to fall together; that poor Chickadee didn't intend to crash our party, when the door opened he startled and took off-- he just happened to be inside at the time! Hannes was not losing his mind, he was trying to tell us that a bird was in the house. Poor pup, wrongfully accused. The bird is still seeking refuge in the wreath, I knock on the door before I cautiously open it now and our fledgling congregation has a great story to tell about our first Christmas party together. Our pastor's wife offered this thought: "We may have the bird thing all wrong. He may have been the Holy Spirit descending on Grace!" I like that. Yes indeed, this time though that bodily form may have just been a Chickadee.