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Repeat After Me

And so they set off, proclaiming repentance as they went. They cast out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. ~ Mark 6:12-13

Mockingbirds certainly deserve their name. They are in a family of birds knows as mimics. This family includes Gray Catbirds and Brown Thrashers, but Northern Mockingbirds are the most likely to be familiar since they enjoy urban habitats. All of these species will imitate, or mimic, other sounds, primarily the songs of other birds, but they can and will repeat anything that strikes their fancy. Since Mockingbirds are regularly in the presence of human-generated sounds, it is not impossible to hear a car alarm or cell phone ring being sung repeated and incessantly outside your bedroom window, all too often in the very early morning or on some occasions, throughout the entire night.

When I was first learning to bird by ear, what I thought was the first Tufted Titmouse I had located by hearing it turned out to be a very convincing Mockingbird. That was an important lesson to test the evidence. This made finding Red-shouldered Hawks in a particular woodland where I knew they lived a bit tricky since the resident Blue Jays were quite adept at sounding like them. That mimicry seemed to at least serve the purpose of fooling other birds into vacating an area so the Jays could have it to themselves. The purpose of the Mockingbird’s imitating and repeating is a bit of a mystery. But there is no question that they are expert at it.

When Jesus sent out the disciples in pairs to expand the reach of his message they were clearly far from fully equipped. Sure, the Bible tells us that he equipped them with power to cast out demons, so that is useful, but given how often their conversations with Jesus betrayed how poorly they were getting his message, they don’t seem like the best representatives to send out. But send them, Jesus did. And the report is that they were successful! So maybe the message is that rather than wait for complete mastery of the message, sometimes it is simply enough to faithfully, repetitively repeat the good news that you have heard.

Prayer: Singer of the First Song, thank you for teaching us the tune, giving us breath to sing, and wings to spread the message. Amen


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