Pentecost +2 – Year B
The small are great; the great, small. This turn around will be home to many.
A majestic cedar dances with a lowly mustard. In both cases, when you have the eyes to see, life blossoms and flourishes.
Birds are a wonderful symbol of our life extended. From Genesis 1:20 onward birds specifically show G*D at work. "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky." In 1:26 we are to be in relation to the birds – good old "dominion" or "partnership". 7:3 reminds us that the birds are related to "clean animals" that symbolically draw us closer to G*D.
A bird brought a sign of new life after a flood. Job appeals to birds who evidence G*D (12:7). Psalm 78:27 reminds us of the quail in the desert, G*D "rained flesh upon them like dust, winged birds like the sand of the seas". Ecclesiastes 9:12 equates the demise of birds with that of humans.
The prophets continue to find connections between birds and ourselves. Isaiah 31:5 equates birds with G*D partners in creation who watch over it. Jeremiah 4:25 shows how desolate life is becoming with even birds having flown the coop. Ezekiel 31 has the cedars of Lebanon populated by birds as a sign of blessing and Daniel 4 sees a similar great tree at the center of the earth, well nested with birds – signs of restoration. Hosea 4 has a new covenant witnessed by the birds of the air, remembering a first creation covenant.
Matthew 6: "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?"
Mark 4: "…yet when mustard seed is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."
Acts 10: Peter's vision of inclusion includes birds.
Revelation 19: "Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in midheaven, "Come, gather for the great supper of God. . . ." to clear away the decay and make way for a new heaven and a new earth. It would have been a nice touch to have the leaves of the tree of life show the healing of the land by the nesting of birds, but John's vision fell just a bit short of rounding things out.
At any rate – where are the birds in your life nesting these days? In your cedar grandeur? In your mustard weediness? On the horizon? In your soul? Watch for the birds and catch a glimpse of G*D's presence.