In God's Hands

posted Sep 23, 2022, 5:47 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,

Grace and peace to you in this season of Ordinary Time!

Some of you heard me share a brief version of this story in worship a few weeks ago but I thought the time was now to write about it in a more detailed manner.

I was in the sanctuary preparing the church for Sunday worship when I got a call from Maggie O’Brien, the Executive Director of the Middletown Arts Center, that a bird was in the kitchen of the Education Building. As I made my way over, my thoughts traveled back to the bird Jamie had rescued in Coventry House, and I was hoping I could do the same. As I entered the kitchen, the little bird was fluttering about, terrified, and even though the back door was open, she went toward the light of the windows, bouncing off them. I reached out to her but to no avail. She kept flying and hitting the windows, exhausted, spent, bruised. At one point she struck the window over the kitchen sink, and I could tell by the thunk she made, it was a hard hit. She fell into the sink, and it was then I scooped her up and took her outside. I opened my hands, but she did not fly. I recognized what was to inevitably happen. As I held her and encouraged her to hold fast, I witnessed her beak opening and closing, slowing, slowing down as she was taking her last few breaths.

You all know my love of animals so you might think I would be distraught. Oddly, I was not. As I watched the life ebb out of her, I felt her smallness, her fragility and also her strength, and I felt a sense of peace. Her fight was over. As someone who has been with people as they have died, I was given yet another window onto a moment of the sacred. I was a witness to something holy; I was a witness to the Spirit who hovers over and comforts all of creation.

I wondered if this is how it is for God with us. When we take our last breath, or are feeling sad, uncertain, bruised from life, sick, God holds us and says, “Remember, I am Immanuel; God with you.” Jesus has got us in whatever life may throw at us, for I am convinced, and we are assured, there is nothing in all of creation that could ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Simply, absolutely nothing.

Come to church this Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost in person or on Facebook live to worship a God who is always with us. Tom Martucci will be leading us in song as we worship God through music. I will be preaching from 1 Timothy 6.6-19 and my sermon title is Remember Your Calling. And we have the joy of welcoming into the Church Universal Angelo Michael Basler through the Sacrament of Baptism.

This is how the sparrow story ends: I walked to the edge of the forest to put the sparrow down from whence she had come. She gave one last flutter and then she was gone. I whispered goodbye to that sweet sparrow, and thanked God for her brief life. As Maggie and I were walking back to the building she asked, “Birds go to heaven, don’t they?” I answered, “Of course. Everything and everyone is beloved by God.” 

In gratitude for the joy of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish