As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will seek to post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer.
Sunday 21st June 2020
‘Weeping with Sparrows & Soaring with Eagles'
Currently the large hedge that surrounds our garden is playing host to two families of blackbirds and two or three families of sparrows. It’s interesting watching the antics of the young birds, especially as they learn to detect threats and fly back into the relatively safety of hedge. We have noticed two types of predators that regularly visit the garden and view baby sparrows as a tasty snack – Rooks and the local Sparrow Hawk. The Rooks will sit on the roof, surveying the garden below. And the Sparrow Hawk will come swooping in from nowhere and be in and out of the garden in a moment.
There is also a third predator – our adolescent Westie pup called Magnus. For Magnus the presence of the baby sparrows on the lawn is an intrusion into his territory. How dare these little sparrows land on his grass! When out in the garden or peering through the patio doors, Magnus is poised and ready to vent his wrath on any birds who are foolish enough not to keep to their own domain, which as far as he is concerned is well above head height!! Magnus is of course only doing what is in his nature.
‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
For the director of music. According to gittith. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
How lovely is your dwelling-place,
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young –
a place near your altar,
LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.
Look on our shield, O God;
look with favour on your anointed one.
Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favour and honour;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose way of life is blameless.
blessed is the one who trusts in you.
Why did Jesus single out one of the most abundant and unremarkable creatures, sparrows, to teach people about the Kingdom of God? In Jesus day, sparrows were caught and used as a food source – a cheap (pardon the pun) source of protein. But here we learn about the extraordinary and limitless boundaries of God’s love.
Rev Sean Swindells
C ruden Parish Church
I cried with the sparrow
by Richard Ryan
I feared that I might die, it was so cold. I had taken a plastic gallon jug and filled it with hot water to place between my feet just to keep them from freezing. The furnace was broken and the authorities had no intent on fixing it until after the Thanksgiving holiday. So we covered ourselves as best we could and tried to rest in the cold cells - shivering.
My beige and gray six-by-nine cell had a steel cot, steel table, steel seat and one window which served only to slow the wind down, not stop it. I laid there and thought about my life. I felt utterly alone. I had no contact from my family and all my friends had disappeared. Was God eluding me too? In that misery, I began to question God. Was He real, and more importantly, did He love me? The only answer that came was the fog of my breathing and a cold turkey sandwich. "Great Thanksgiving," I mumbled.
I prided myself on being strong, but I was weeping in the cold. As I wept, I begged God for a sign that He really cared. I had made terrible choices in the past but I thought I had finally made a good one the day I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. However, I even questioned that on this horrible day.
As I continued to weep I gazed at the snow-swept widow and was surprised to notice a tiny sparrow crouched in the corner of the window sill. How sorry I felt for that bird. I watched him for what seemed hours. I remembered the verse in the Bible when Jesus told of feeding the sparrows. I wondered why He allowed that little creature to suffer as I was. Then with a solitary misty word, I allowed the word "why" to fall from my lips. I had at last put a word to the million questions that ran through my idle mind in that cold, cold cell.
That word seemed to bounce off the concrete wall and suddenly the whole room was bathed in sunlight. The sparrow shook himself from his slumber and began to stretch his wings. He was warming himself in the sun's rays, which invigorated him. I was in awe as I saw the shadow he was casting on my cell wall and then I gasped audibly. There in the cell with me was a picture perfect form of an angel. Each time the little sparrow moved, the angel did too. It was the sign I had been looking for, the affirmation that I was not alone, that God really does care for me. I then got up from my frigid cot, shook off the self-pity and penned this poem:
CONVERSATION WITH A SPARROW
Come to me little sparrow, Away from the pelting rain;
Tell me of your sorrows and I'll tell you of my pain.
Come perch upon my window sill,
And rest your weary wing;
And give to me the meaning
Of the beautiful song you sing.
Teach me how to be happy behind these concrete walls;
Now give to me the reason for your early morning calls.
How I'd like to soar the heavens
And fly about so free!
But I am here in prison,
So you take wing for me.
'Tis God who taught you how to sing,
And gave you wings to fly;
'Tis God who sent His precious Son
For sinners such as I.
So off you go, little sparrow, out into the pelting rain.
Take with you all my sorrows and give wing to all my pain.
Fly away, little sparrow,
But soon come back to me;
For as I watch you soar the heavens,
I find, I too, am free.
God allowed me to weep with a sparrow so that I might learn to soar with the eagles.
“I am like a desert owl , like an owl living in the ruins. I lie awake.
I am like a sparrow on a rooftop.”
God of eagles, God of sparrows,
soaring spirit, earthly guide,
help our nation know true greatness,
free from all-consuming pride.
Strengthen us for global duties
sharing progress that is just;
like the eagle may we venture,
like the sparrow may we trust.
God of valleys, God of mountains,
comrade in our depths and heights,
speak through all our civic leaders
who would nurture human rights.
May they know your daily presence
and affirm your ageless deeds;
through dark valleys may they follow,
up steep mountains where love leads.
God in victory, God in failure,
steadfast through each tribal test,
save us from our shabby idols,
show us that your way is best.
Better than the lure of power,
better than the lust for fame;
so in failure may we praise you,
and in victory bless your name.
For God so loved the world;
The sparrows, the mountain lions,
the fish and the people.
For God so loved the world;
In success and failure,
in sickness and health,
in mediocrity and extraordinary.
For God so loved the world;
Enough to become one of us,
enough to suffer along with us,
enough to offer new life for us.
For God so loved the world;
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, you will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours
now and forever.
Go with God to be disciples,
and to make disciples.
Not knowing all the answers,
not promising to give all the answers;
but content to know,
and confirm to others,
that God is present,
in all the mix of certainty and doubt
faith and fear, sadness and joy,
that is this human life
And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Remain with us now and forevermore