May 08, 2017

By Mary Mortenson, Executive Director, Prison Congregations of America

One spring a few years ago, my husband Jack and I noticed a beautiful little yellow bird in the tree outside of our kitchen window. After determining that it was probably a goldfinch, we went about researching what would make the little bird want to stay in our tree.  As part of our “welcome to the neighborhood” effort, we bought a goldfinch feeder, which Jack hung right outside the kitchen window. I was excited at the thought of watching the little bird and his friends while I cooked or engaged in other kitchen activities. We were feeling very pastoral and connected to nature! Alas, although we had set a table for him, the beautiful bird did not reappear. Occasionally, some winged creature would stop by the feeder, but what we offered therein was clearly not to its liking.  Then in late winter of this year – some two years since that first effort – the finches started to frequent the feeder.  Jack cleaned and filled the feeder with fresh seed, and now it’s a popular place!  The funny thing is that once in awhile even a goldfinch stops by. 

This story is a metaphor for the ministry of PCA. We plan, we work, we negotiate and we educate, and we think things are flowing along as planned when all of a sudden there is a delay in the prison or in the sponsoring denomination. These are reminders that while we are called to engage in and support this important work, it is God’s work, and will happen in God’s time - not an easy reminder for we planners.

I don’t know why the goldfinch didn’t stay at the feeder two years ago.  I don’t know why the finches came this winter.  All I know is that somehow - this time – things seem to be as they should be, and it’s less about what we did, and all about a gift God gave us.  So it is in life.

Category: Development

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