Our call to worship was a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Published 6:04 pm Wednesday, May 15, 2013

As my friend and I walked out onto her front porch, she said, “We haven’t been to a worship service at our church in a long time because of my husband’s illness.”

“I hope that your transportation and health issues haven’t stopped you, from worshipping,” I said.

Without missing a beat, she raised her work-weary hand and pointed to her bird feeder. It was alive with yellow and blue colors streaking in and out.

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“I saw one yesterday that I’d never seen before.”

I stopped and became silent.

“It was some kind of Grosbeak.”

Then she spoke it into my life.

“It was white on the underside with sharp black wings and a red, red breast spot.”

I quickly pulled out my phone with the bird app and flipped through the Grosbeaks. We held the phone between us like we were sharing a hymnal.

“There it is! It’s a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.”

“Oh my gosh! You saw that?” Our call to worship was a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.

“Yep. It was so beautiful. It doesn’t live here. It was just migrating, passing through.”

“Amazing,” we spoke with the same breath.

Then she dug deep into the Psalms that were written in the dirt.

“These are irises. Look at the different shades of purple. I just can’t believe them. The variations of purple just get deeper. Each petal or lip has incredible variation and then, spots!”

“All creation sings of your glory, Lord.”

There they are: signs and wonders, if we just had the eyes to see. Mundane miracles.We paused and I would have said that we shared a moment of silence except that the birds would have argued the part about silence.

“And you know, I was sick for a long time, awful burning pain. The pain and muscle contractions were so bad; they would curl me over and make me stiff like a stone. Just to give my body some relief, the doctors would knock me out with the same stuff they used to put folks under for an operation. It was unbearable. I spent a lot of years wanting to let go of the pain that life meant and wanting to hang on at the same time. I prayed for enough life to see my little girl through to the point she could get along without me. I prayed for God to heal me in any way, through His spirit and wisdom even through the doctors. And look at me now. I am standing and walking on my own. My body is no longer folded over in pain and my daughter is grown.”

Signs and wonders.

What God said to the iris bulb that made it stand up out of the grave and be purple, deep purple with spots, was spoken to my friend’s body. Then, seeing her stand in her garden with the choir of birds singing around her, I caught it too. I could hear their praise and my heart joined their unending hymn. I turned to leave and instead of saying goodbye, we both said, “Amen.”

– Rob Parsons Pastor, Saluda and Columbus United Methodist Churches