Matthew 10:24-33 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
24 “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master;
25 it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!
26 “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.
27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.
28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
30 And even the hairs of your head are all counted.
31 So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
32 “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your father.”
I recently decided to buy a bird feeder for the garden. It hangs from a hook by the kitchen window and I bought a pack of insect suet pellets, filled it up and waited to see what would happen. What I did not expect was the feeding frenzy that would follow. Completely oblivious to my watching them from the window and completely intent on the food, the sparrows just cannot get enough of it. They hang from the feeder at all angles, right way up, side ways and upside down. In fact I have had to go back to buy a bucket of insect suet pellets to keep up with demand.
But I have noticed two things. Firstly, sparrows are not all alike, they are all different and close up they are beautiful little birds. I am now quite entranced by them.
And secondly it’s the way they feed. They don’t just hang on to the feeder eating the pellets. They pull the pellets out of the feeder, throw them on the ground and then drop down to the floor to eat them.
They drop down to the ground to eat. They don’t gracefully flutter down, they drop like a small stone to eat the food on the ground.
This is so relevant to our reading today. Jesus says there are few animals as plentiful as sparrows yet not even one of them drops to the ground outside the fathers control and love. I always used to think that this referred to them dropping to the ground when they die. That when they were dead, the Father knew about it and cared for them and so he will for us too. Which is a lovely thought. But having watched my sparrows dropping to the ground to eat it made me think again. The Greek verb used here “to drop” is to drop down to feed not to die. God is the God of the living. That even if little creatures as plentiful as sparrows can live and thrive through God’s grace and love so how much more will we, created in his image, be able to do so.
It is also a reminder that today on Father's Day we should be thankful for all those who take on the role of fathers, whether they are men or women and remember that in caring for and protecting those in their lives and helping them to live and thrive, our heavenly Father does the same.
The Collect for The Second Sunday after Trinity.
Faithful Creator, whose mercy never fails: deepen our faithfulness to you and to your living word, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Today we pray for all who have the privilege and responsibility of being parents. We thank you for all those men and women who take on the roles of fathers and we pray for single parent families where parents are mothers and fathers to their children.
We pray for our schools as they begin a phased return. We pray for the safety of both children and teachers and we give thanks for the work of teachers and staff who have worked so hard during the pandemic to provide for the welfare and education of those children in their care.
We pray for peace in the World, peace in our communities, peace in our homes and peace in our hearts and lives during the difficulties and challenges of these times. We pray for the work of the food banks, that they may have enough to feed those in need. We pray for all who are struggling with social isolation and those whose mental wellbeing in threatened. We pray for your healing touch on those who are ill at this time, those in hospitals and care homes and for those who care for them.