United Methodist Parish

Sunday, June 21, 2020 – Discouraged?

Sunday, June 21, 2020 – Discouraged?

Read Psalm 86: 1-0, 16-17

Song for the day: His Eye Is on the Sparrow

Has anyone not felt discouraged recently? Sometimes I feel discouraged, especially these days. We don’t need to think hard to come up with discouraging things. It’s been difficult to keep worry and sadness at bay. Not being able to be with other people has made it harder. Social isolation isn’t healthy. Being with others to share an experience helps to keep shadows away.

I’ve been watching birds and chipmunks to keep my attention distracted away from the news. We still have a bird feeder that I put up in the morning and bring in at night. One night a couple weeks ago, I didn’t bring it in soon enough and a large furry beast yanked it off the porch and into the yard… Fortunately, it made enough noise that we heard it and were able to scare it away before it carried the feeder off. But I digress.

I’m enjoying some rose-breasted grosbeaks in particular this year. There are at least 2 pairs in the vicinity of our house. The male is black with white underneath and a large rosy red bib that dribbles down its front. The black and white coloring of the wing feathers doesn’t look unusual until the male flies and you see arcs of shadow and light as he flaps his wings. He’s a delight to see in flight, but it’s the song of the male that really lifts my spirits.

Some mornings if I don’t get the feeder out soon enough, a male will sit on the porch rail and sing as if to tell me, “Seeds, where’re my seeds, I’m here!” When I walk in our yard I’ll hear him sing and it brings a smile to my face.

A few days ago, I was outside near the little creek that runs beside our yard, and I heard him singing. I looked around thinking I might see him perched on a branch and was surprised to discover him sitting at his nest! He wasn’t in or on the nest but was perched just a couple inches above it. The nest is quite large, shaped like a big cone and is built in the crook of several small branches. He blended in with the shadows and would have gone unnoticed if he had not been singing.

(Fathers, this is a nod to fathers who have tended their offspring…– Happy Father’s Day)

I wasn’t looking for or expecting to ever see a rose-breasted grosbeak’s nest, so this was a great surprise and delight. Just what my weary soul needed. A boost from nature, one way that God gets my attention and offers peace to a weary soul.

God’s eye is on the grosbeak, and I know God watches me, perhaps in the way this bird was watching and protecting his nest from predators, weather, or just a bumbling bird watcher.

Grosbeaks sing to defend territory, even though I like to think the songs are to cheer me up or nudge me to put out the feeder. I’d like to think the grosbeak sings because he’s happy or because he’s free, but that probably isn’t the case. Humans however do sing when we’re happy or free. We also sing when we are discouraged and when shadows come.

Today’s psalm is a song of appeal to God to listen, to hear and answer the distress call of one who is devoted to serving God. A person fending off discouragement and shadows, whose “hope within” was dying. This servant of God did as our song for today says and drew closer to God through a heartfelt prayer.

“Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”

Does that resonate with you today: Bring joy to your servant? “I call on you, God, I trust in you and your goodness and forgiveness and your abundant steadfast love that does wondrous things.”

Take time now to lift up to God that which is making you weary or discouraged today. What “enemies” or things are working against you? Name some now in confidence that God hears our prayers…

Hear these words of response from Jesus as found in Matthew 10: 26-31

So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; … Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. (NRSV)

Why should we be discouraged? God’s eye is on the sparrow, and we are of much more value than many pennies-worth of sparrows. God does more than watch us, we know this because we know Jesus Christ, and we have been given the Holy Spirit, an ever present help in time of need. Thanks be to God.

~ Evie Doyon, June 2020