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 quick perch on the railing of my deck and I find myself wishing that they were some other variety of backyard bird, perhaps something with just a little more colour—like a wren or a goldfinch or an oriole. Even a chickadee or a nuthatch will do. Dull in colour, yes, and lighter than air itself, these sparrows seem to be.
I am thinking about sparrows and how I have learned that, if you look closely, they really don’t all look alike, although the differences are subtle and 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 of life 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.
I am thinking of sparrows today and I am wondering who the “you” is of whom Jesus speaks in this passage. Is it you? Is it me? I have always thought so, or 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 that knows us so well that God has the very hairs on our heads numbered.
Today I am taken also to the many others. All those others I too often do not 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. I cannot help but believe that in an especially powerful and particular way God’s heart is with:
- The young woman who, behind a plexiglass screen, checked me out at the grocery store the other day.
- The health-care aide who has no choice but to go to work to feed her family.
- The middle-aged woman with a heavy accent who handed me my order at the drive-through last week.
- All the nameless, faceless ones who harvest and butcher and pack the food that lines my shelves and fills my freezer.
I also think of so very many people of colour whose stories have been overlooked or downright ignored—to their very peril—by those of us in the dominant culture. Today, I think about these “sparrows,” at least in terms of how much more God loves them. Indeed, all so deeply loved by God in spite of the fact that we who walk alongside often do not see or really hear them at all.
Especially today, I am wondering what God’s call is for me and for us in all of this.
Rick Neufeld is Mennonite Church Manitoba’s director of leadership ministries, and interim executive minister until the end of this year.