This week’s devotional was written by Rev. Mark Roberts and can be found below or by clicking this link: https://depree.org/series/following-jesus-today/#part98
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Luke 12:6-7 NRSV
I write most of my devotions while sitting on the patio behind my home in Pasadena. Since the weather here is relatively mild, I can do this during much of the year. Give me a fan in the summer and a space heater in the winter, and I’ll do my writing out with the squirrels and the birds.
We have lots of birds in our back yard, mainly because we keep several bird feeders well stocked. For the most part, our avian visitors are small: Lesser Goldfinches, Dark-eyed Juncos, House Finches, and a variety of sparrows. (As you can see in today’s photo, sometimes my feeders attract quite a crowd, in this case, of Lesser Goldfinches.)
I’ve never actually thought about what one of our tiny bird visitors might be worth in dollars. Given how small and common they are, not too much, I expect. So, I’m not surprised by the statement of Jesus in Luke 12:6 that five sparrows are sold for “two pennies.” The NRSV slightly understates the worth of two assaria in Greek, which were copper coins equal to what a day laborer could make in a half hour or so. But Jesus’s point is clear. Sparrows aren’t worth very much money, which is why they were used as food for people who were quite poor. Yet, according to Jesus, “not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight” (Luke 12:6).
Now, it’s certainly possible that Jesus was speaking hyperbolically here. But I must admit I rather like the idea that God is watching the birds in my backyard, enjoying them as small wonders of his creation. If I like watching the birds day after day, surely God likes doing so even more. This reminds us of just how much God values what he has created, something we learn from Genesis 1 but sometimes forget.
Jesus’s main point is that God, who pays attention to even for one of the least valuable animals on earth, cares so much more for you and me. “Do not be afraid,” Jesus said, “you are of more value than many sparrows” (12:7). What is implied but not stated here is this: You are of more value to God than many sparrows. God knows you. God cares about you. God values you more than you’ll ever fully know.
As an added illustration, Jesus said, “But even the hairs of your head are all counted” (Luke 12:7). The ironic and irreverent part of me wants to respond, “Yes, but that was more impressive when I was young and still had a full head of hair.” But, at the same time, I take Jesus’s point. After all, even now with thinning hair, I have no idea how many hairs are on my head. I can’t imagine trying to figure that out. But God knows me so well that even such a trivial fact about me matters to him.
Jesus used these common illustrations to emphasize how intimately God knows us and how much we matter to him. If you stop and think about it this is really wonderful. The truth is that God knows everything there is to know about you and he values you more than you will ever comprehend. Amazing!
Now, the context for this good news in Luke is the persecution that followers of Jesus experience in both the present and the future (Luke 12:4, 11). Jesus reassured his first disciples – and us, by implication – that God knows our sufferings and cares deeply for us. That’s encouraging, for sure. But Jesus did not say that this means God will always deliver us from hard things. So we’re left with holding in tension the fact of God’s deep care for us and the fact that this doesn’t mean God will always rescue us from hardships. I must confess that I find this perplexing at times, especially when people I care about are hurting. I can wonder why God doesn’t intervene more directly to set people free from pain, injustice, and oppression.
Nevertheless, today I am cheered by the fact of God’s care. I hope you are too. No matter what you’ve experienced in life, God knows and God cares. I’d like to close with the version of this good news that appears in Paul’s letter to the Romans: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 37-39).
Lord Jesus, thank you for the reassurance in today’s passage from Luke. Thank you for letting us know that God knows us through and through and that God cares for us more than we can truly comprehend. Help me, Lord, to take in this knowledge.
I want to pray today for those who are going through hard times. It can be difficult to experience God’s loving care when we’re suffering pain or injustice. You know that, Lord. So I ask for an extra measure of your grace to be poured out on those who are in pain today.
I ask that you help me to live each day with the assurance of God’s care. May I truly know that nothing in all creation can take me away from God’s love given to me through you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
June 12th Reception of New Members:
This Sunday, June 12th, we will be having a handful of new members officially join our church. So join us on this exciting day as our church family expands to make room for some amazing people. After service, we will have a reception with food and light refreshments to welcome our siblings in Christ to our church family.
Summer Break: Sunday School & Music Ministries
This is just a reminder that after June 19th, our children’s Sunday School and various music ministries will be starting their summer hiatus. Thank you to everyone who has participated and led in these special ministries at our church.
Laura and John Newton want to make the congregation aware of an upcoming marriage seminar. The Frinks, a couple who has led marriage workshops at FUMC before, are offering a Focus on the Family marriage workshop this June 24-25th at their home church, which will be open to any couples who want to attend from our church. Their church is called The Blue Church, a non-denominational church located at 940 Baltimore Pike, Springfield, PA. (West of Philadelphia). There are hotels in the area such as a Days Inn, if someone wanted to stay over. The Newton’s are going and will be facilitating break-out groups.
The Focus on the Family program is called “Reconnected”. It runs in workshop format 7:00-9:00 pm Friday the 24th and 8:30 am to 3:30 pm on Saturday 25th. The cost to register is $50.00 per couple, which covers the cost of the book, materials and the Sat lunch. Registration information can be sent to:
1220 Prospect Avenue
Prospect Park, PA. 19076-2031
Make checks payable to “The Blue Church”
Should you have any questions about this workshop feel free to connect with Laura or John Newton.