Rambling for Kirwan Uniting Church Keep in Touch pew sheet, 27 October 2019
The takahe is a large flightless bird indigenous to New Zealand. It looks like a giant swamp hen (Leisa said, when we saw one - of which more in a sec - “It looks like a dinosaur!”) It’s endangered, restricted to a few offshore islands and a couple of sanctuary areas in the south of the South Island. We visited one of those, which boasts just one breeding pair (out of only 300 in total). We had a lovely walk around the eco-sanctuary (preceded by a lovely coffee - Kiwis know how to make coffee), but weren’t very hopeful of seeing a takahe. Not long before we got back to the campervan, after a fair trek, we said let’s take this little diversion off the track, probably nothing will come of it. But rounding a corner on the diversion, what was happily and unconcernedly nibbling on the native grass, but a male takahe.
Rowan Williams likens prayer to birdwatching, in a sermon on the importunate widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18). Like the widow, we persist in engaging with God in the face of apparently unfulfilled prayer. Even though persistence, it seems, doesn’t actually pay off. Jesus's point in the parable is that the widow keeps on hoping. She has faith, even in the unjust judge. Delay is no reason to abandon hope and faith. Instead delay is where we cultivate expectation.
Williams describes long periods birdwatching, sitting in the rain with nothing very much happening. He then goes on to remind us of the occasions when the bird-watching praying Christian catches a glimpse of “the kingfisher’s wing, flashing light to light”, that makes all the cold wet sitting worthwhile. Living in this sort of expectancy is, he says, basic to discipleship.
Are you expecting to glimpse the kingfisher's wing this week?