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? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?Matthew 6:26-27 (NRSV)
Last weekend, as most of you know, here in New England, we had a blizzard. Several inches of snow fell per hour, there were fifty-mile-per-hour winds, whiteout conditions, and state roads and bridges were closed to non-emergency vehicles. After running out for milk, bread, and other necessities on Friday, most of us hunkered down on Saturday and rode out the storm from the comforts of our homes.
At the Thibeault house, we had a fire in the fireplace, hot soup on the stove, and a fresh loaf of bread in the oven. We didn’t worry about losing electricity or having to shovel. After all, we had a generator in the garage if we needed it, and we didn’t need to be anywhere, so we decided to wait until the storm was over to tackle the driveway. We just relaxed and enjoyed the snow day.
Besides the gusting and blowing of the wind outside, it was a quiet and relaxing day, that is until I glanced outside and saw the poor birds in my backyard being blown to and fro. I also noticed that my birdfeeders were caked with so much ice and snow from the blowing wind that the birds couldn’t get to the seed. I started to worry about them, the poor little things. They had nowhere to call home, no shelter from the storm, and now no food to eat to give them energy. I felt so bad!
The snow had gotten so deep that I couldn’t walk around the house to where I store my birdseed or get to the bird feeders. So, I had to get creative!
I went into the garage and found a very long stick. I then went back inside and opened my office window. (Yes, in the midst of the storm!) I leaned out the window with the stick, trying to clear the snow from at least one of the bird feeders. It didn’t work. I had to get even more creative. So I used the stick to lift the birdfeeder off the post it was hanging on. I lifted the stick toward the sky as the birdfeeder slowly slid down the stick toward me. I cleared the snow from the feeder as best I could, opened the top, and tossed some seed on the ground. The birds quickly flew over to eat the seed that I had tossed on the snow, but the storm was coming fast and furious. Within minutes the seed was covered and most of my efforts were thwarted.
Suddenly, in the back of my head, I heard a few of the words that Jesus shared during the sermon on the mount. He said, “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?” I suddenly smiled, as I was reminded that my worrying didn’t help the birds, or me, or anything else for that matter.
Sure, my creativity helped a little, but all that my worrying did was take away my ability to rest and enjoy the day.
Friends, so many times we want to fix everything. We think that we are in control and that it is up to us to solve the world’s problems. And sure, we can do our best to be helpful, reaching out to others in need and sharing what we have. But if all we do is worry, we end up helping no one.
There are lots of people that are beginning to worry about the church. Now let me be clear, not just the Oldtown church, but the idea of church in general. We have all been through so much in the last two years. The world around us has changed.
And so have we. But worrying about what will happen with and to the church, doesn’t help. We’re going to need to get creative!
It’s going to take honest conversations and open hearts and minds to really look at what our community and the world need right now. It’s not about putting the pieces of the puzzle back together; it’s about creating and painting a whole new picture. And friends, it’s going to take all of us–not worrying, but listening and sharing, being creative, and working together.
Folks, we have all been through quite a storm over the last two years. But through it all, God has continued to feed us and guide us and give us strength, just like the birds. Now, it’s our chance to imagine new and different ways to praise God, to give thanks, and to be a faithful community–not one that worries and complains, but one that thinks outside of the box, truly listening, sharing, and working together as we find strength and inspiration, not in one or two individuals, but in our entire community.