Friday, May 6, 2011
Surrounded by Birds
As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother's wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison. Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." Luke 3:15-22
We have several bird feeders in the back yard. We brought them with us when we moved here. My mother has always sat at her table and watched the birds outside of her window. The whole town is designated a bird sanctuary and migrating birds come through since there is a fresh water lake here so close to the ocean. The rest here before they cross the Delaware Bay. This morning, I had to move the bird feeder since she was having to strain to see the birds on the feeder. I picked up the pole the feeder was on and moved around until I got the okay from her. All sorts of birds show up, mostly pretty common ones and occasionally something more rare. We have doves that nest in the eaves of the old house where we live. Birds fascinate us as they signal seasonal changes, new ideas, and awe us with their beauty, movement and unusual markings.
John had baptized many and heralded the coming of Jesus, which got him into hot water and ended him up in jail. How strange that the herald of God's love coming among us frightened so many. I assume it threatened their rigidly tight control on things. They were told they would have to change their ways, and no one wants to hear that. And then came Jesus, up from the water, noises from heaven like doves, and a voice which declared love for this dear one. How frightened and confused they must have been. How odd that something so normal as a dove, so common and so nonthreatening could signal such unrest and confusion.
Today I ask God to help me welcome change and all the visitors in my life - feathered or otherwise. It is normal to reject newness and to be afraid. I ask God to give me courage to not be fearful in these times of change and newness, and welcome each with an awe for the beauty they bring. May we all be courageous in these changing times, knowing God is looking upon us and speaking words of love for the entire world.