His eye is on the sparrow
I made a strange discovery the other day. I went out to get the mail, just as I do every day. I reached into my mailbox. There were some flyers, a couple of bills, and an invitation to a birthday party. I put my hand in one more time just to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything, and I pulled out … a handful of straw! How odd, I thought. Could some local children have been playing a prank? It didn’t seem likely. The following day the mystery was solved. Perched on the rim of my mailbox was a tiny sparrow, and it was clear that she was building a nest, a home for her young. I was mesmerized as she flew back and forth, tirelessly gathering materials to construct a tiny bed of straw for her babies. Then my thoughts turned to another mother — a mother who sought warmth, comfort, and protection for her newborn baby and placed him on a tiny bed of straw.
In this issue of ML we pay special attention to that mother, Mary, the Mother of God. As we prepare to celebrate the Assumption of Mary on August 15, Mark McVann shares with us an insightful and thought-provoking historical overview of the Blessed Mother. As Mary provided a good, solid, and nurturing home for her son, Jesus, we in ministry have an obligation and responsibility to make sure that our spiritual homes are in right order and conducive to good and wholesome worship for our parish families. To that end, this issue continues our journey into the exploration of liturgy, the prayer of the church. Bob Nugent provides us with an in-depth and sometimes humorous survey of liturgical practices and some do’s and don’ts. Finally, we are privileged and honored to welcome back an old friend this month, Ministry & Liturgy’s founding editor, Jake Empereur. Jake offers a thoughtful examination of the positive and negative aspects of tensions in the liturgy.
By the way, my friend the sparrow decided that the overhang of my garage would make a better nesting place for her family than my mailbox. There’s room for expansion there, in case the family grows. I see her and her babies each day as I walk my dog. There’s much activity in and around that nest — chirping, feeding, and the gentle nudging of the young out of the nest so that they can learn to fly and fend for themselves. But most of all, there’s care and nurturing and, I believe, love. Jesus tells us, “Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them” (Mt 6:26). God feeds the birds of the air and God feeds us, not only with food and drink to nourish our physical bodies but with spiritual food and drink to nourish and strengthen us for our spiritual journeys. Each time we come together at the Eucharist to share the Body and Blood of Christ, we give thanks to the God who loves us, protects us, and saves us. Each time I see that family of sparrows, each time I hear their sweet song, I am reminded of the love that surpasses all understanding, and I join in their song as I sing softly to myself the words of that beloved gospel hymn, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.”
Why should I feel discouraged?
(Words: Civilla D. Martin, 1905.