The juncos are back.
Because our garage is now gone, I’ve been able to see our entire backyard without going outside, and last week there were the juncos out there, hopping around, looking for something to eat in a place that no bird has been for … like … all fall and summer! I don’t know what they were finding, but they seemed very happy, very intent. They eat bugs of all kinds, but also berries and seeds. I haven’t seen them since, so maybe they ate everything in sight. Or maybe they just ate their daily bread as part of a trip further south.
I know more juncos will show up. They always do. Maybe it will be a different flock. Or maybe it will be the same flock doing the rounds in my neighborhood. It would be interesting to know which. How little we know of their lives. Why is that?
Where were the juncos all summer?
Up north, way up north, according to Audubon.org, some flying all the way up to Hudson Bay to breed in the summer. Apparently the juncos grow up fast, fast enough that, in their first year, they’re able to fly from Hudson Bay all the way back to the USA. I wonder how many trips they make like that in their lives? How little we know of their lives. Why is that?
Juncos are part of a family called New World Sparrows. So they’re sparrows of some kind. Which, despite how common sparrows are, makes them very special since Jesus talked about them. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.”
According to Jesus, God knows all about every junco … where each of them flies for the summer, how far each of them migrates south in the winter, whether the ones who were hopping around in my yard last week are here to stay or are just on their way, how long they live. And our Father in heaven doesn’t just know about juncos. God knows about every sparrow, every robin, every owl, every marmot, every elephant, every tiger.
That’s a lot to keep track of. “Even the hairs of your head are all counted!” Jesus says. His point? Our Father in heaven is keeping track of us all … all creatures and all human beings. God knows all our good thoughts and all the good things we do. And yes, God knows all the rest. But it’s not for the purpose of our embarrassment that God knows everything about us and all creatures. It’s not to scare the hell out of us. According to Jesus, God uses his amazing omniscience for the purpose of his amazing grace, not to inspire our fear, but to calm it. “So do not be afraid,” says Jesus, “because you are of more value than many sparrows.” God sees everyone, knows everyone, every human being and every creature, because he loves us all. Those whom God loves – every human being and every creature – are they not also worthy of our own love?
Pastor Larry Lange