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Two Penny Sparrows

Dozens and dozens of these mundane little birds often sit on my roof. When I first started bird watching, these dime-a-dozen birds didn’t gain my attention. But one day, I looked out the window and remembered.

Outside my kitchen window is a bird feeding station—a cobbled-together group of feeders and platforms to hold seed and suet. We feed a lot of visitors. Blue jays, flickers, tufted titmice, chickadees, cardinals, snowy woodpeckers, wrens, and Indigo buntings. When I see these birds arrive, I freeze at the window because my slightest movement might startle them, and they will fly away. These are the celebrity birds—the lets-get-out the bird identification book because they aren’t the mundane kind.


Most often, when I glance through the window, another kind of bird is present. Usually twenty or more—fluttering, flitting, and alighting. These birds are social and don’t like to be alone. In just a few short hours, a flock can pick your birdfeeders clean. They land only to drop to the ground and then fly upward again, bumping their flock mates off the narrow ledges.


Sparrows.


Dozens and dozens of these mundane little birds often sit on my roof. When I first started bird watching, these dime-a-dozen birds didn’t gain my attention. But one day, I looked out the window and remembered.


Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father …fear not; therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10: 29-31; Luke 12: 6, ESV)


I wonder if Jesus and his disciples passed by a peddling bird vendor who shouted, “Get your sparrows. Sold here two for a penny. Five for two pennies.”


There was such an excess of birds that two pennies purchased the expected four with an extra thrown in free. They had little market value, especially the extra ones. As the vendor handed a bag of birds to the buyer, did Jesus turn to his disciples and say, “Fear not…”?


Not one of the sparrows will fall to the ground unnoticed. It would be enough to know God takes note of every time a sparrow falls dead, but there’s an idea that the word falling might allude to when the birds flit to the ground and then fly up again. (It’s hard to count how many times they do this in a minute).

God notices the falling of a sparrow to the ground. He does not forget the extra one thrown in for free. In a world where the common, the mundane, had little value, Jesus assured his listeners and disciples that God values them. Jesus’ words are not sentimental prattle—a Hallmark card, syrupy and sweet. No, in a society where most of his listeners were considered two-for-a-penny kind of people, they needed to know that God would not forget them.


Now, when I pass by the kitchen window, I pause and watch the two-penny sparrows, remembering I am far more valuable than many house sparrows. If God knows when they flit to the ground and fly up again, then He cares about me, about you. He has not and will not forget us.


Yes, he cares.


And when you forget, be reminded the Creator of the Universe keeps track of sparrows.


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