Saturday, February 2, 2013

His Eye Is on the Sparrow

Today I celebrate 24 degrees. I rejoice over positive wind chill factors. Last week's single digit temperatures and bone-chilling breezes gave me fresh appreciation for all things thermal, flannel, and fur-lined. Daily emails, from a certain retired preacher wintering in Florida, reporting his local forecasts filled with sunshiny, eighty degree weather, made me grouchy.

Then I remembered a particular sermon from that certain preacher.

The preacher, while walking from his car to his workplace one bitter February morning, saw a sparrow fall from its perch on a small tree branch. It had frozen to death. Tears welled in eyes already watering from the cold. The tears were not from sorrow over the death of the bird, but from joy, as he was reminded afresh of Jesus' assurance of our worth in God's eyes. To this day, decades later, the old familiar hymn, His Eye Is on the Sparrow, brings those same tears to those same eyes.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31 ESV

Life as a bird, when snow is deep or food is scarce or temperatures are extreme, is a struggle. Making birdseed cakes is a fun winter craft for kids and an opportunity to teach them about God's care and provision.

Here is the link to the recipe I used:

Last week was so cold. How did you stay warm?

I have a picture to show you. This bird is a sparrow. A sparrow is a small bird. He weighs about the same as a pencil. Sparrows do not fly south for the winter. They live here all year, even when it's extremely cold, like last week.

Sparrows are everywhere. They are just common, everyday birds. Lots of birds are more beautiful than sparrows. Lots of birds sound more lovely when they sing than sparrows. Sparrows are ordinary.

Yet, Jesus had something to say about sparrows:
"When sparrows are sold, two small sparrows cost only one penny. But not even one of them can die without God's knowing it. God even knows how many hairs are on your head. So don't be afraid. You are worth much more than many birds." Matt 10:29-31

We sometimes sing a song in church about how God cares for the sparrow. Let's have everyone sing the chorus with us:
     I sing because I'm happy
     I sing because I'm free
     His eye is on the sparrow
     And I know He watches me
     His eye is on the sparrow
     And I know He watches me

God loves the sparrows, and He pays attention to their lives. God loves you much more, and He pays close attention to your life. God knows how many hairs are on your head. And God knows what is going on in your life. God knows when you are sad about something; and when you are happy, He knows that, too. God knows when you are afraid; and He understands about that.

Let's thank God for caring about us.
Bow your heads, fold your hands, close your eyes.

Dear God,
You care for the little birds and you care even more for us.
Thank you!
Why should we ever worry?!
God bless us all, and keep us safe and warm.
In Jesus name we pray, amen.

We can care for the sparrows, too, just like God does. When it is very, very cold outside, birds need to eat more food for their little bodies to stay warm. Here is a birdseed cake for each of you. Take it home and put it outside. Then watch from your window--the birds will come and eat it!