My Bird Teachers

posted Mar 12, 2021, 10:26 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you during this season of Lent.


Have you ever read or heard a Scripture often enough that it becomes so familiar, almost commonplace, but it’s only when some event happens that you finally get the meaning? 


This type of revelation happened to me a few weeks ago when I was working upstairs in Coventry House and heard a pecking at the window. There, perched on the windowsill, was a little wren looking in at me. I stopped what I was doing and moved nearer in order to observe her more closely. To my surprise, she didn’t fly away but continued to look for bugs, obviously hungry, as deep snow still covered the ground. It then occurred to me to get some seed and put it on the windowsill. A blessing for her and for me — she could eat and I could enjoy her company. She didn’t seem that interested in the seed as bugs were more to her liking, but soon enough, a little junco came and nibbled away at the seed. I was amazed at how quickly its tiny beak moved, crunching through the shells to get to the kernel.


A day later a white-throated sparrow arrived to partake of the windowsill feast. With just a pane of glass dividing us, I sat right next to the sparrow; so closely, in fact, that I could see the yellow tufts over its eyes. Quietly, I observed whatever little feathered friends showed up for the day, often talking softly to them. And that very familiar verse came to mind, Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they (Matthew 6.26. For the full text, see Matthew 6.25-34)?  


Look at them, Jesus says. And what I realized about this sentence is the verb “look” is not a suggestion or a figure of speech. It’s a command, an imperative. Look at the birds. As I took the time to look, it dawned on me that these little creatures wake up every morning, go out to search for food and water, and then in the evening they roost. They don’t seem to worry about whether they will find food, or if a hawk will swoop down and get them, or if they will get sick that day. Instead, they trust their Creator to provide for them, live one day at a time, and then rest. Oh, my tiny feathered companions, I thought, you have much to teach us about trusting God.


Beloved, let us continue to trust God in all things this Fourth Sunday in Lent when we shall gather at 10:15 AM to chat with one another, and then worship at 10:30 AM. We are planning to pre-record the worship, so we will watch it together on Zoom and have our Prayers of the People afterwards. Nancy Scharff is our featured soloist and she will sing “God So Loved/We the Kingdom” and “How Beautiful.” I will be preaching from John 3.14-21 and my sermon title is Turn On Your God-Light. 


I continue to put out seed for the junco, the sparrow, and whoever else wants to show up on the windowsill, because now, I think I finally understand what Jesus was trying to teach us — Look at the birds; look at what they do, then trust God.


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


Pastor Trish


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