“So do not be afraid. You are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10: 31
I am thinking about sparrows today.
About how many of them there are and yet how little I notice them until they stop for a meal at one of my feeders and I find myself wishing they were some other variety of backyard bird: something just a little more colorful — like a cardinal or a goldfinch or a downy woodpecker. Even a chickadee or a nuthatch will do. Dull in color, yes, and lighter than air itself, these sparrows seem to be — which you would also know if you have ever had to dispose of one once it has come to an untimely end and landed last on the edge of your driveway or somewhere else it simply could be ignored.
I am considering sparrows now and how I have learned that if you look closely they really don’t all look alike, although the differences are subtle — even invisible — to one who has never taken the time to actually pay attention.
I am thinking about sparrows today and I am hearing Jesus promise that those who follow him into the struggle are of more value than many of them. And that all the while God has God’s eye on the sparrow. Even as God has God’s eye on all of us.
Oh, I am thinking of sparrows now and of how no matter where I am, I only have to pause for a few minutes before I see one or more. I only have to sit still for a minute on my breezeway before one balances on a flimsy branch on the lilac bush before making its way to a newly filled feeder.
I am thinking of sparrows today and I am wondering deeply, perhaps for the first time, who the ‘you’ is of whom Jesus speaks in today’s reading from Matthew. You and me? Yes, I have always thought so. At least I have always rested in this powerful promise that God’s eye is on us as God loves us with an amazing love which knows us so well each one that God has the very hairs on our heads numbered.
You and me, yes, of course. But today I am taken also to all those others. All those other often truly forgotten ones. All those others I too often don’t pause to notice. Not unlike sparrows, in a way.
We have called them ‘essential workers’ of late. And yes, those include doctors and nurses and health care workers, of course. But I cannot help but believe that in an an especially powerful and particular way God’s heart is:
- With he young man who behind a plexi-glass screen checked me out at the grocery store the other day.
- With the health care aid who has no choice but to go to work to feed her family.
- With the middle aged woman with a heavy accent who handed me my order at the drive through last week.
- With all the nameless faceless ones who harvest and butcher and pack the food that lines my shelves and fills my freezer.
- People who work long, hard hours for little pay who are too often unseen.
- People who in these last months have been lauded with yard signs and have received our public and private thanks, but who can still hardly make ends meet.
And yes,I also think of s,o very many people of color (often one and the same as those named above) whose stories have been overlooked or downright ignored — to their very peril — by those of us in the dominant culture.
‘Sparrows,’ all, it seems to me. At least in terms of how much more God loves them.
Indeed, all so very loved by God in spite of the fact that we who walk alongside often simply do not see or really hear them at all.
I am deeply humbled by this discovery now that while Jesus may have meant these words for the very likes of me, even so, perhaps it is so that they were meant even deeply and surely for so very many others. Those I, myself, too seldom truly ‘see’ at all.
I am thinking about sparrows today. And as I consider those who I encounter every day, I find myself especially thinking of those I seldom truly ‘see.’
And I am wondering at what God’s call is for me in all of this.
- Surely that call is not only to notice, but to pay attention not only ‘when they fall’ as the Gospel has it now, but long before they do.
- And more than this, or in order to do this, to remember their inherent value.
- And because of this noticing, this remembering, to change my very way of living in this world now so that ‘value’ will be reflected in real and meaningful ways in their lives now.
- And yes, even more than this, to work to change the systems of this world which keep them so invisible, so forgotten along the way.
I am thinking about sparrows today.
- What difference might it make for you to simply sit and think about sparrows for a time?
- A new understanding came to me as I sat still with Jesus’ promises using sparrows as a point of comparison. Perhaps it is more helpful to you to think of something other than sparrows in this way. What would that be for you?
- Of course the Gospel promises are meant for you and for me. And yet, I find it both convicting and freeing now to consider that they are very likely meant first and foremost for those in our midst who are too often unseen. Too much forgotten. Those who might be compared to ‘sparrows’ in terms of God’s love and care for them. What do you make of this possibility?