Pastor: That's the motto for the Army
Gabby: I'm here to "Cross into the Blue"
Pastor: I think that's the motto for the Air Force
Gabby: I've got my swimming trunks, too!
Pastor: That's a motto?
Gabby: No but if you're in the Navy, you're in the water so Gabby is always prepared.
Pastor: That sounds like the Boy Scouts.
Gabby: And, there's another branch.
Pastor: Gabby, another branch? Talking about the Marines, the Army & Air Force and Navy....what's this all about?
Gabby: (Looking very serious at Pastor) This earth of ours is a very big place with lots of people and it's kind of like a big basket of apples.
Pastor: Okay....I'm sure there's a relationship between earth and apples but you'd better explain.
Gabby: Well, did you ever hear the saying about one bad apple can spoil a basket full of apples?
Pastor: Yes, I believe I've heard that saying before, but what does that have to do with the people of the armed services?
Gabby: Well, actually, nothing but it does have to do with our world and peacemakers.
Pastor: Explain, Gabby!
Gabby: Our world is made up of good people, happy people, and funny people, and unfortunately.....there are some bad people. And those bad people can cause a lot of trouble for a lot of good, happy, funny people. They can make trouble because they don't have love in their hearts.
Pastor: Yes, Gabby....there are people that do cause a lot of trouble.
Gabby: Those bad people may treat other people in a bad way or try to take control and then the next thing ya know....a fight might break out.
Pastor: And, you know about fights???
Gabby: You betcha! It was back in the early 90's when I was living in Florida.
Pastor: Gabby, there was no big fight in Florida.
Gabby: Oh yes there was....oh, the TV networks didn't cover it ....
Pastor: It must not have been newsworthy.
Gabby: No, I don't think Peter Jennings wanted to get his feet muddy.
Pastor: Explain, Gabby.
Gabby: Well, down in Florida there is a little corner of the Everglades and it is an absolutely wonderful area called Pickadilly Swampground. There we were ....
Gabby: Yeah, me and all my 500 fellow flamingos enjoying the peace and serenity of Pickadilly's Swampground. Well everything was just fine until one day, I looked up and flying overhead is the biggest, ugliest looking group of buzzards I had ever seen. And they landed right in the middle of our swamp. We flamingos don't mind sharing so we just went about our business of eating our fish. Ooooh, those little fishies were so very tasty.
Pastor: Everything sounds pretty calm.
Gabby: That's what we thought. But suddenly, those buzzards started moving closer and closer to us flamingos. And they started taking our fish.....right out of our mouths. Not me though, I wasn't about to let go of my fish.
Pastor: What happened, Gabby?
Gabby: Well, the biggest of all the buzzards wanted my fish realllllly bad and because I wouldn't let him have it, he smacked me with his big, fat, smelly, muddy foot and knocked my fish right out of my mouth. Well, that made me reallllly.....
Pastor: Mad, I'll bet....
Gabby: No, it made me really scared. And all of his friends were doing the same thing to my friends. So we all thought, well...maybe if we let them eat there tonight, they'll be gone in the morning. So my friends and I flew over to another side of the swamp where there was very little fish. The next morning, those bullies were gone, so all my friends flew back to our happy little swamp ground.
Pastor: That's not much of a fight.
Gabby: Oh, yeah....well not more than 20 minutes later, those smelly buzzards came back and this time they wouldn't even wait for us to catch the fish before they started smacking us. There were flamingo feathers flying everywhere. And, they were picking on the littlest flamingos, too! Well, let me tell you...that was enough for me. So I stood up straight and walked right up to the biggest, fattest buzzard and I put on my meanest face and said "look here you "nincompoop!"; "we flamingos have every right to be here in Pickadilly Swampground and I will not allow you to be mean or hurt any of my friends or take control of our
swamp ground and not share. Now, turn your fat buzzard behind around and take off."
Pastor: Well you sure told him? I'll bet they left right away.
Gabby: Actually, it was me who left right away....as a matter of fact, I was moved about 50 feet... into the air. I still have a spot on my butt where feathers won't grow because I landed in a thistle bush. I knew we had to stand up for our rights. But I knew we couldn't do it alone. So......my little buddies and I got together, and while they were helping me pick out the thistles in my
bottom, we came up with a plan to attack those buzzards. But we needed help....so we enlisted a few of our favorite friends.
Pastor: And they would be .....????
Gabby: You see, that particular time of the year, we have a lot really big hawks and especially bald eagles living in the
swamp ground. They are very smart. They have the best radar of all the flying creatures. They were only too happy to help us. And we enlisted a few other friends, too, like the raccoons, coyotes and skunks; they were wonderful as our ground troops cause they like to come out at night and they can be really sneaky. Well, time had come for our planned attack.
Pastor: Did you attack during the day or at night?
Gabby: It was just beginning to turn to dusk, when out of the North came the first wave. It was a mighty proud sight to see those impressive creatures flying in formation and leading the flock of hawks was the bald eagle. And suddenly the flock turned towards Pickadilly Swampground, dive bombing those buzzards. And then it started getting dark and I looked over at the edge of the swamp and there I could see the ground troops were in place, my friends the raccoons and the skunks and the coyotes.
Pastor: What happened then...?
Gabby: Well, for the next few hours, there were a lot of features flying but they weren't pink. By next morning, the
swamp ground was quiet. I could see the hawks and the eagle sitting up in the trees keeping watch. The raccoons, the skunks and coyotes were along the banks of the swamp, cleaning off the mud they got during the fight.
Pastor: What about the buzzards?
Gabby: There were just a lot of feathers floating on the swamp water. And then, all my flamingo friends were flying toward the
swamp ground, all happy to be free to enjoy their habitat once again. And I went over to thank all of our friends for helping to bring peace back to Pickadilly
Swampground. The raccoons and skunks and the coyotes told me if we ever needed help again, to just call. As they left I saw some rustling in the bushes and there under some palm leaves were a dozen little buzzards quivering in fear. I told them to come out and Clyde, he was one of them, said they really didn't want to fight, that the leader was just a big, fat bully and made them fight. And then Clyde told me he and his friends just wanted a nice peaceful place to live and so now we have some very nice buzzards living right alongside my flamingo friends in Pickadilly Swampground.
Pastor: That sure was quite an experience. What happened to the hawks and the eagle?
Gabby: They stayed around for a couple of weeks just to make sure everything was peaceful and then they left.
Pastor: There are times when people or even birds, can't agree. That happens with countries, too. One country does something terribly wrong like blowing up buildings or hurting people. Those people have hearts full of hate. Their country is lead by people who don't know about God's Word or God's love.
Gabby: I know there are people in this world that are bullies much like the bully that tried to take over Pickadilly Swampground. Those bullies can be very, very mean to people.
Pastor: Gabby....are you afraid that will happen here?
Gabby: There's a lot of stuff on TV about a lot of fighting and stuff but I have God in my heart and that makes me feel safe and I have you and all my friends here at our church and you kids have your parents who are very strong and smart and will always keep you safe. I also know that we have a lot of very brave and caring people in the Marines, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard to protect us from the bullies of the world. And we can't forget about the Police and Fire Depts. they're here to protect us, too.
Pastor: That's right, our country is built on freedom and love and respect for one another. Our country is a peacemaker. God is a peacemaker. The men and women who serve in the Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Reserves, Police and Fire
Departments....they are all peacemakers. And, in
Matthew 5:9 Jesus said "Blessed are the Peacemakers."
Gabby: I have something very powerful I want to use.
Pastor: Gabby.....something powerful??? I'm not sure about this!
Gabby: Oh, relax...God gave it to me. And it will sure help.
Pastor: And it is....???
Gabby: The power of prayer.....every day we need to pray for the Marines, the Navy, the Air Force, the Army, the police, the fire depts. And not just for us but for all the countries around the world. And, Pastor, those
bullies...if they don't know and love Jesus, then they are enemies of
God (Romans 5;10). Let's say a prayer for them, too, to believe in
Jesus, and to change their hate to love.
Pastor: Amen, Gabby!
Copyright 2003 Gail Peterson
Grace Lutheran Church
5N600 Hanson Road
St. Charles, IL 60175
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