There’s a mother robin sitting on her nest by our driveway.
We noticed the nest because of the plastic string hanging down
that she didn’t quite get incorporated into the structure.
We’re trying not to disturb her,
although she doesn’t seem to be fazed by the roofing work going on.
For the next week and a half, she’ll be incubating almost non-stop –
just leaving the next long enough to get a bite to eat (10 minutes max).
Sometimes her partner will bring her breakfast in bed.
She may build three nests this summer and have three broods of children.
That’s a little daunting to me.
Our resident wren has been flitting around our backyard and singing his heart out.
We have three wren houses available to him.
I expect he will build a twig nest in all three of them
and present the choices to his mate.
She gets to choose the house she prefers.
The swallows are back – four or five species –
and they’re building their mud nests under the downtown bridges –
except for the tree swallows, who prefer other accommodations.
This is the time of the year that we notice and appreciate the birds around us.
Their songs wake us up in the morning.
Their behavior is fascinating – if we can be still long enough to watch them.
They invite us to think of life – and birth – and mothers – and God.
It’s no wonder that birds appear in the Bible so much.
You can find a great book at Hedberg Library –
Consider the Birds: a provocative guide to the birds of the bible by Debbie Blue.
Jesus compares himself to a mother hen.
The author of Deuteronomy points to a mother eagle as a picture of God.
So, let’s think about the ways that a nest reflects how God takes care of us – the nestlings.
The nest gets built – usually with a great deal of attention to detail.
Each nest has a special design –
from the hummingbird’s nest made out of spiderwebs
to the robin’s nest made with grass and mud
to the oriole’s nest hanging from a branch
to the eagle’s nest that needs a large tree to hold all its weight.
God knows what kind of nest we each need
to grow and stretch our wings and fly.
The eggs need to be kept warm and safe.
It’s a full time job.
I’m glad that God is on it –
and that God sends people to provide comfort and protection.
The hatchlings are hungry.
A baby robin needs to eat every 20 minutes the whole day long.
That’s a full-time job for both the parents.
The nestling may eat 14 feet of worms altogether -
plus a lot of insects.
We say grace at our meals to remind us
that our food ultimately comes from God.
Then the little birds leave the nest – they fledge – they fly.
The mother is still around – still feeding them.
They haven’t forgotten how to beg for food.
And gradually they learn how to find their own worms for breakfast.
That’s a mother’s purpose –
raising children that can make their own way in life.
That’s God’s purpose – raising us to think for ourselves –
to act as adults –
to continue creating the world God gave us
with love as the guiding principle.
The Psalmist says:
Hide me in the shadow of your wings. Ps 17:8
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Ps 36:7
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by.
There are at least nine places in Scripture that talk about taking refuge under God’s wings.
A nest is a safe haven.
It’s a place to retreat to when the storm comes.
(We just hope that branch is strong enough to withstand the gusts of wind.)
A mother’s lap is a good place to be when the thunder crashes around us.
How do we find God’s sheltering wings when we’re scared?
We can read a Psalm. We can call a friend to pray with us.
It may be hard for us to feel God’s hug,
but we reach out and hang on to our trust.
A nest is protection from predators.
When the mother is on the nest, she’s hard to see.
Her protective coloring keeps prying eyes away.
And if there’s a threat, she goes on the attack.
Size doesn’t matter.
I’ve been divebombed by a redwing protecting her nest.
We may not know what God is doing to keep us safe.
But we depend on God’s design and God’s people for our well-being.
Now we get to the hard part for today. Jesus says:
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!
How often have I desired to gather your children together
as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,
and you were not willing! Mt 23:37
Here’s a difference between birds and humans.
Can you imagine the goslings by Monterey not coming when their mother calls?
But we get good at ignoring the warnings.
What is Jesus offering in terms of protection and comfort under his wings?
The prophets that he mentions were often saying:
“Watch out! You’re going the wrong way. Danger ahead!
God can only protect you so much if you insist on being stubborn.”
Or else they said:
“This is God’s purpose for you. If you follow the plan, you’ll prosper.”
So if we take refuge under Jesus’ wings,
we’ll be warned; we’ll be safe from making terrible mistakes;
and we’ll be put on the right track for a life that’s worth living.
Why wouldn’t we come when Jesus calls?
It’s the same reason mothers have to call their kids to supper more than once.
Jesus is still calling us.
“I want to put my arms around you.
I want to keep you safe and give you a purpose for your life.”
We can hear him saying,
I was hungry and you fed me. I was sick and you tended me.
I was in prison and you came to see me. Mt 25
When we do the everyday things that mothers do,
when we care about the people around us,
we are answering Jesus' call,
and we are leaving the nest and flying for ourselves.
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest
and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
and carries them aloft. Dt 32:11-12
This is a great picture – the eaglet who is ready to fly jumping out of the nest –
and the mother hovering underneath,
ready to catch the young one on her back if he falters.
There is some question about whether that really happens in nature.
But there is no question about the mother’s intention for her child.
She wants him – she wants her – to fly –
and not only to fly – to soar!
That’s God’s intention for us.
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.