Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
I have heard many sermons about the sparrow verse above. Mainly, in North America, the story goes that God loves us so much, because God loves even the little sparrows. That is a great story for people like me, who are happy and loved.
If you are a person living in captivity, you hear the verse very differently.
Sparrows in the field are quite happy, and have no worries (Jesus has another story about worrying less, like the sparrows). Sparrows are only sold once they have been captured and held in cages. They have become a commodity, worth something, albeit very little, to the captor, who now holds the sparrow’s life in his hand. The sparrows might wish for a miracle – to be set free again to return to their natural habitat. Instead, they will be bought and sold and killed – they will die in captivity.
The immigrants at this camp are now being held, in captivity, at the will and under the power of a powerful person who creates the cages around them. They are not promised that Jesus will fix all of their immigration trouble. God does not promise that they will leave the cage of detention. God instead promises that even when they die, even in captivity, God will be with them.
The people I met needed to hear a different story about God than I did. Maybe.
They needed a reminder that God cares about Sparrows – even in cages, even as commodities, even when they fall and die. They needed a reminder that God is more powerful than the evil which enslaves us.
But don’t I also need that message?
Maybe I am not enslaved as a White American. Maybe I do not have fear of my police or my government. But maybe Satan is still trying to put me into cages. There are always cages of sin all around us. Sins that I do, and sins that are done to me or around me, and these sins create barriers to my freedom. Sometimes I do not feel free to be who God made me to be, and instead, I am stuck in a small cage of human expectations and human experiences.
God doesn’t promise that all of our problems will be gone.
God promises that we will never be alone.
Because we are stuck in the cages of this earth, cages created by sin, Jesus left heaven’s freedom for earth’s cages – suffering death on the cross – so that the cages can be opened, and destroyed, and they can no longer define us. We will be in cages here on earth. And we will die in cages here on earth. But eventually, we will be free to fly with God in heaven.