Last week, I had a conversation with one of my fellow Sabbath School instructors who has an impressive movie collection  in which I found her to be very enthusiastic about the subject material of the movie. For my own reasons, I am as well. As enthusiastically as I have been involved in various divisive scenes like church splits and the like, I deeply dislike the disunity I find all around me. A great longing for unity can be felt even among those, perhaps even especially among those, who have in their own lives greatly contributed to disunity wherever they have been. My comment to her about the longing for unity that the documentary expressed was that Jesus Christ would one day gather His little chickens together so that we would all be united in love. It is a sentiment that many people share, although given my predatory feelings about chickens, it might be odd that I would identify so strongly with them.
The expression, though, comes from Jesus Christ Himself, in only slightly different language. If someone who has devoted himself to eating chicken to the extent that I have can identify as a little chicken, then certainly the identification ought to come more easily for most. Read, for example, the anguished lament of Christ in Matthew 23:37-39: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” Perhaps the proud Pharisees and the noble, aristocratic Sadducees were not used to seeing themselves as lost little chickens as they strutted about the barnyard, but that is how God saw them. They saw themselves as great and powerful men, but God saw them as little chicks that needed to be gathered together in safety and protection and care.
Anyone who has seen the history of the Worldwide Church of God and its various splinter groups with anything approaching compassion and understanding will understand how fervent the desire for unity is. Often, far too often, the divisions within families on the micro scale are mirrored in the divisions on the macro scale. There is good reason for this. For one, the Church of God as a whole has not developed widespread traditions in conciliation and diplomacy. In our manuals for developing speaking skills there are stir to action speeches and attack speeches, but there are no conciliation speeches or build a bridge speeches. Perhaps it is easy, in the face of a world that is viewed as hostile and threatening, to want to develop one’s skills to fight back, but to the extent that we develop our speaking skills for the purposes of cutting others, it is to be expected that someday those skills will be honed in cutting at those who are supposed to be closest to us, those closest to home. And so it is.
When people think of gathering the chickens together, apart from the religious standpoint cited above, the perspective usually involves politics of some fashion. Nationalist politicians in general find it of particular interest to gather stray chickens to benefit the national homeland. During World War II, for example, Hitler paid a great deal of attention and interest to having the volksdeutsche (that is, German by virtue of ancestry and not citizenship) serve the interests of Third Reich Germany. As a point of fact, many of his closest advisers and allies were among that group of people, including Germans of Baltic and Argentine extraction. I am a part of that population myself, as was General Eisenhower, and so are many people I happen to know, with a great deal of admixture as a result of having acculturated successful into the general population of northern and western European-Americans in the United States. No doubt other nations view their own expatriate populations with a mixture of concern and longing, seeing the brain drains that afflict many nations as amounting to a stain on the national honor.
When we look at our present society, it is easy to see that there are many scattered chickens that need to be gathered. People are far from home in a relational sense, far from the places they belong, often scattered in a world that feels harsh and atomistic, and that is very lonely. Families are broken apart, congregations of brethren are divided, nations are split by polarizing politics. It is not any great insight to see that chickens need to be gathered. It is also no great insight to realize that the reasons why people want to gather the chickens together are not always the same. Some people are looking for comfort in the face of life’s tempests and troubles, some are looking for political or demographic strength, and still others have ideals of unity that they wish to see enacted in reality. How does one go about gathering the chickens together, though? By what means can that which is divided become united once more, or perhaps for the first time? Let us save this question for another day, as it deserves a long enough answer of its own.
 See, for example: