Cowesby Church: Releasing the Wren

I called at Cowesby Church last week, in Allertonshire, North Yorkshire. It was mildly interesting, secluded among the trees, unseen from the road. Inside it was a little unkempt, with paint flaking off and cobwebs hanging thick. Yet when I opened the door, I was not alone. Something was inside, trapped. It was a wren.

Whether he had got in through a crack and been unable to exit, or whether a previous visitor had left open a door, I did not know. The Visitors’ Book suggested I was the first caller for a week, but not everyone signs. The wren was flying around, calling out, clearly distressed. Whether my arrival added to the despair, or gave him hope, I also did not know. I left open the main door and quietly prayed that he would have the sense fly out. The windows were brighter and higher than the door, so he would need his wit to realise that it was his only exit. Sure enough, after a few minutes, he landed on a pew, saw the churchyard beyond, and flew to freedom. I was surprised at the level of my own joy. I suspect he had denuded the many webs of their spiders during those days or hours he had been trapped, for he looked fat enough, yet he longed to be free. Upon departure, I ensured the doors were properly closed so no other hapless bird would find himself trapped.

It struck me that churches and religious organisations are often prisons and gaols. Trapped in a religious system in which membership of that group is essential for both celestial reward and one’s existing social life, must be galling indeed. I suspect many Jehovah’s Witnesses dare not leave for fear of ostracism; many others in mainstream denominations dare not leave, despite their leaders’ compromises, for not knowing where else to go.

We Bible believers urge people to come to Christ, not to church. It is Jesus Himself who makes us free, and it is in Him alone that we find our fulfilment. Although a real Christian will always seek the fellowship of the saints and join a church, it is also true that from churches, many more than that poor wren need setting free.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1

Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners. Psalm 146:7