Penguins are really hard to classify.
They are birds, but they don’t really have wings – their wings are more like flippers. And they don’t fly, but then not all birds do. And they don’t seem to have any feathers.
And they are aquatic. They are so much at home in the water. Or more particularly under it.
At Chester Zoo (it may also be the case at Blackpool Zoo, but I’ve yet to visit it) you can look into the penguin pool, underwater, through windows. It is watching them underwater that everything suddenly makes sense. It is in the water that penguins fly, and you understand their birdhood.
Just like birds have that wonderful freedom to ride thermals, and see the paths in the air and navigate them, penguins are just so graceful and at home as they glide through the water.
First time I saw them do this, many years ago, they became a favourite animal, my imagination captured.
Do you know, as people of faith in Jesus, we are rather like penguins. We are human, with faults and failings, hang-ups, baggage, and the rest. But we have an unexpected capacity to love, to respond with compassion, an irrational attachment to a Saviour, and a peculiar familiarity with the things of God. And we belong together in a way that doesn’t make sense. And, when we find ourselves wrapped up in worship, rather like the penguins in the pool, we seem to dance together to the same rhythm and pattern, and hear and feel the same light and truth. We celebrate what we have become and what we are becoming.
We have penguinhood.
Or you might call it new birth. Or salvation. Or simply grace.