Pastor Linda's Message Blog

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Pastor Linda

Connecting - April 2018

 

On a Wing



On a recent mid-March morning, just as I was leaving the parsonage for the church, something caught my eye causing me to look up. I was astounded and delighted to see an eagle flying low over the parsonage.

In grade school, I learned that Eagles were an endangered species, and that conservation efforts were underway to prevent their extinction. Like many bird species, DDT and loss of habitat decimated the eagle population. Eagles were so rare that for most of my life, I never saw, nor was I in close proximity to, these majestic birds, to say nothing of seeing one fly over my yard!

We are fortunate to live along the banks of a river, where eagles have found a good place to nest. They mate for life and typically return to their established nesting sites each year. Another point of eagle trivia is that their plumage is all brown until they are 4-5 years old, which is when they get their distinctive white head.

With a life span of 15-25 years and grown hatchlings returning to nest within 100 miles of where they were raised, there is an excellent chance we will see eagles in Van Meter for many years to come.

flying eagle

Do you suppose God is a bird watcher?

One scholar counted nearly 300 references to birds in the Bible with most of these found in the Old Testament. Perhaps one of the most well-known passages of encouragement naming the eagle is found in Isaiah 40: those who wait for the Lord shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

On the other end of the spectrum is the sparrow, a small, non-distinct bird that in Matthew 10:29 is deemed to have little value: Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. So God is a birdwatcher!

In these troubled times, it is reassuring that just as God watches the birds and cares for them, God with an even greater love watches over and cares for us. Jesus tells us that all the hairs of our head are numbered and that we are worth more than a sparrow.

Birds have provided sustenance for God's people. Ravens fed the Prophet Elijah in the desert, and God sent quail to keep the Israelites alive on their 40 year journey to Israel.

Jesus told of a mother hen to convey our rebellion against God. In Luke 13:34 we hear of God's desire to gather God's people under his wings and protect them, like a mother hen gathers her chicks, but we are not willing, we turn away from God.

But perhaps the most celebrated bird in the Bible is the dove. The Rock Dove of Israel nested in cliffs that surrounded the valleys. It is a beautiful, gentle bird similar to our Mourning Dove. The dove has long been a symbol of peace and of the Holy Spirit.

Noah released a dove from the ark to determine if the floodwaters had receded enough to reveal dry land. When it was time for Jesus' dedication at the temple, Mary and Joseph took two doves to offer as a sacrifice. A dove appeared at Jesus' baptism. When he came up out of the waters of the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove.

Perhaps the most celebrated bird in the Bible is the dove.

Even though winter has been slow to leave, the birds of spring are back. Eagles and hawks, robins and sparrows, blue jays and finches. They chirp their eternal optimism secure in God's care. May we do the same.

Pastor Linda