Matthew 10.26-33 (for the youngest children, simply verses 29-31)
We know that Jesus has many disciples. Disciples are people who follow Jesus and learn from him. Jesus teaches them, but he also sends them out with a buddy so that they can tell other people about the Kingdom of God.
In the reading for this Sunday, Jesus prepares his disciples to go out. Some of them worry about going away from Jesus. Two times he tells them to have no fear—be not afraid—but still they worry. So, then Jesus says something kind of funny:
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
Sparrows?? Sparrows are small, ordinary birds—not very interesting. Sparrows are not bright red, yellow, or blue like cardinals, orioles, or blue jays. Sparrows do not mark the beginning of spring like the robins; we see them here all year long. Sparrows do not hunt small animals like the great red-tailed hawk. Sparrows are not even the smallest bird—people like watching bright green, teeny-tiny hummingbirds much more than sparrows. If we look, we see sparrows everywhere—there are so many of them—but people do not pay attention to sparrows. They are not very exciting.
Jesus says that people sell sparrows for a penny. In Canada, nobody sells anything for a penny. We do not use pennies anymore because pennies cannot buy anything. You cannot even buy a piece of gum with a penny! You would need more money. Jesus says a penny buys not one but two sparrows. Two sparrows must be worth even less than a little piece of gum! Who would buy sparrows? We would rather save our money for gum.
But Jesus says,
not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
God causes the sparrows to live and gives them wings to fly. Sparrows do not fall to the ground because God knows all about them. They find food to eat even in the middle of winter, and they build nests in trees and bushes to keep warm. Who provides that food? Who grows trees for them to live in? Even though people would rather have gum, God takes care of the sparrows. Even though people do not find sparrows very interesting, God takes such good care of sparrows. Sparrows never worry. God pays close attention to these everyday little birds.
It would be good to be a sparrow. God sees sparrows.
Then Jesus says,
even the hairs of your head are all counted.
Who counts hair? Some people have lots of hair. Others have not so much. No one knows exactly how many hairs each person has. There are too many. We cannot count them. But Jesus says God counts each one of the hairs on our heads. God must pay an awful lot of attention to us, too.
God sees us, too.
In fact, Jesus says that God pays much more attention to us than those sparrows.
So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Now the disciples know that they do not need to worry! God pays attention to sparrows, and God pays even more attention to us. We are so, sO, SO much more special to God than sparrows. Who can count how much more special we are?