It was a bit ironic that on Sunday, June 18, we began worship with a passage from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter six, in which Jesus reassures people that they do not have to live overwhelmed with anxiety because they can trust God. And the verse that we lifted up that morning was this one: “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them” (Matthew 6:26). And it was ironic to begin worship that Sunday with that verse referring to “the birds of the air” because during the preceding week, one of those birds of the air—a pigeon, to be exact had taken up residence in Central Church’s Sanctuary. We assumed it flew in through one of the open windows in the Sanctuary, and while we tried to help it to find its way back outside, it found its own way eventually into a large organ pipe from which it could not seem to escape. That Sunday, June 18, a number of organ pipes were still disassembled, removed on the preceding Friday so that the organ tuners could reach the pipe. They were able to set free the pigeon, which flew off from the Maple Street lawn, alive and well.
Of course, in the passage in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus was trying to reassured people who were worried and anxious. They could trust God, Jesus told them, and he pointed to “the birds of the air” as an example of how God takes care of God’s creation. “The birds of the air” don’t worry. Indeed, “the birds of the air” are presented by Jesus as being pretty passive. God feeds them. God takes care of them. And yet, in many ways in contrast to what Jesus was saying in Matthew’s Gospel about “the birds of the air,” that week, we were not passive, waiting for God to take care of the pigeon. The pigeon needed our help, and so we did something.
And that leads me to two thoughts. First, from time to time, we all need some help along the way, because we all can get trapped. And, sure, we can spend time blaming ourselves or listening to others blame us for the choices that we made that ended up in us getting ourselves trapped, but what use is there in that? When somebody is trapped, they just need some help, and all of us need some help from time to time, and there does not need to be any shame in that.
And second, from time to time, when somebody is trapped and in need of help, it is our hands through which God helps and feeds and sets free. Indeed, it seems to me that is usually how God works—not through some disembodied miracle, but through human beings, using our hands and our mouths and our minds to help each other along the way.
It is hard to know how the pigeon felt when it flew off that Friday, but I know how I felt. I felt relieved, truly glad that the pigeon was alive and well and free again.
--Pastor Don Steele