Consider the Birds

A thrush singing on Yynys Enlli (Bardsey Island) – photo by Eryl Parry
This week we have two reflections, from Sandra Friedrich in Conwy and Judy Williams in Ty’n y Groes.  Both have been inspired by, and found hope in, our ‘feathered friends’. 

Sandra writes,

Last Monday our late son, Chris, would have celebrated his 40th Birthday.  Whilst wondering what to do on a difficult day, “Consider the birds” came to mind.  So I did! I just sat on our sofa and watched our dear little sparrows and blue tits busy at the feeder outside the lounge window.

They were eating and chirping and flitting as wee birds do: no thought of death or losing someone you love; no worrying about what’s next or how they will get the next meal or make it through the next hour; no wishing they were bigger or smaller or faster or smarter or a different colour or kind.
It seems that our fellow feathered creatures have greater, simpler trust in our loving Creator than we ‘advanced’ humans do. Maybe being a ‘birdbrain’ isn’t all bad!
Though these are difficult times for many of us, for all kinds of reasons, our loving Father assures us through Jesus that we need not fear as we are of more value to him than many sparrows.

“Edrychwch ar adar yr awyr: nid ydynt yn hau nac yn medi nac yn casglu i ysguboriau, ac eto y mae eich Tad nefol yn eu bwydo. Onid ydych chwi yn llawer mwy gwerthfawr na hwy?”

“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?”  Mathew / Matthew 6:26

Judy writes,

For so many people the word ‘peace’ is farthest from their minds at the moment. Apart from the ongoing physical threat of the virus, one of the most disturbing effects of the Pandemic has been on mental health. Many are anxious and fearful, for health. loved ones and livelihoods. 

The author of the little story below is unknown.  I find it a great comfort in times of trouble like these.  It reminds me that Jesus and his peace are with us in the midst of trouble, just as he promised: 

“Yr wyf wedi dweud hyn wrthych er mwyn i chwi, ynof fi, gael tangnefedd. Yn y byd fe gewch orthrymder, ond codwch eich calon, yr wyf fi wedi gorchfygu’r byd.”

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Ioan /John 16:33

There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror, for peaceful towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the king looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest in perfect peace.

The king chose the second picture. ‘Because,’ explained the king, ‘peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.’

Peace is not the absence of trouble but the fact that Jesus is there in the midst of it with each of us – feeling what we are feeling, suffering what we are suffering.

Rooted and Grounded in Love.

A reflection by Ros Hughes

Yr wyf yn gweddio ar iddo ganiatau I chwi, yn ol cyfoeth ei ogoniant, gryfder nerthol trwy’r Ysbryd yn y dyn oddi mewn, ac ar I Grist breswylio yn eich calonnau drwy ffydd. Boed I chwi, sydd a chariad yn wreiddyn a Sylfaen eich bywydd gael eich galluogi I amgyffred ynghyd a’r holl saint beth yw lled a hyd ac uchder a dyfnder cariad Crist, a gwybod am y cariad hwnnw, er ei fod uchlaw gwybodaeth. Felly dygir chwi I gyflawnder, hyd at holl gyflawnder Duw.

Effesiaid / Ephesians 3:17-20

I pray that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

What does this phrase ‘rooted and grounded in love’ mean to us today?

Recently, I was watching our young grandchildren delight in gently caring for their pets and showing real love and concern for their well-being. Perhaps, this indicates that we all have an inborn care and concern for the things around us. This side of our nature needs to be nurtured and encouraged as we grow and develop throughout life. Because of this we help our children to be ‘rooted and grounded’ in the values we ourselves have, that have inspired and supported us in our own lives.

Jesus in his teachings spoke of the need for us to build our lives and faith securely rooted as the seed in the parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, or grounded on firm foundations as illustrated in the parable of the wise man building his house on the rock that stood firm in the storm. Jesus said, ‘Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like; He is like a man building his house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.’ Luke 6:47,48.  

Although, this letter from St Paul to the Ephesians, speaks of the need for secure foundations, ’rooted and grounded’, the emphasis is on the word ‘love.’

We have so many references in our Bible passages to ‘love’ and we can read and hear so many further writings, sermons and talks on this subject. I was initially reluctant to put pen to paper on this subject yet again! But ’love’ is so fundamental to our faith and life that we cannot avoid using this amazing word ‘love.’

What does love mean to you? When have you been most aware of being really loved? And when have you been most aware of giving your love?

The further verses in this letter of St Paul is a beautiful prayer that we might fully know the love of Christ that ‘surpasses knowledge.’ Understanding this depth of love is a tall order, but perhaps understanding this love is far less important than knowing it, feeling it, and sharing it.

If we pause and think about how full the Gospels and indeed the Bible is of ‘love’ – how do you feel ‘rooted and grounded in love’ today? And how does this prompt action and expression for you now?

Gweddi – Cariad ar waith

Arglwydd, diolch iti am dy gariad: y cariad sy’n adfer, y cariad sy’n adfywio, y cariad sy’n adeiladu gobaith. Helpa ni bob dydd i chwilio am gyfleoedd ymarferol i rhoi dy gariad di ar waith. Amen

Prayer – Love in Action

Lord, thank you for your love: the love that restores, the love that renews, the love that builds hope. Help us each day to seek practical opportunities to put that love into action. Amen

Christian Aid Cymru