Even the Sparrow has found a home! I am easily distracted these days. Just beside my desk there is a TV monitor where, all the time, I can see exactly what is happening inside a bird box in our garden where I have installed a camera. A pair of great tits has taken up residence there, and in the next few days seven chicks will hatch (hopefully!), and over the next few weeks I will be able to watch the constant activity as parents seek to feed their helpless and ever hungry offspring.

They are ‘only’ ordinary garden birds, but the diligence and care they are investing in their nest and hatching their eggs is simply stunning.  Moreover, every day I am being visibly reminded of Psalm 84 where we are told of the welcome of God in his house for ‘ordinary’ birds – the sparrow and the swallow in particular.

I am finding that what I am seeing on the TV monitor and reading in Psalm 84 is deeply challenging me about how I relate to others – especially those who are different from me in a variety of ways. Since God welcomes the sparrow into his house, who do I welcome into mine? Who are the people who are important in my life?  Who would the Lord want me to connect with outside my current range of friends?

Jesus made a point of welcoming many people whom others did not want to associate with. For example, Zacchaeus – the hated tax collector (Luke 19), and the woman caught in adultery (John 8). Luke 15 tells us that the ‘Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

The actions and attitudes of Jesus also raise the question of whether everyone is actually welcome at the door of our church. And the question of how well we do it. Can it be said that the diligence and care we invest in nurturing new followers of Christ is simply stunning?

Jesus explicitly said: how much more valuable you are than birds! God has ordered nature in a very special way so that there will be enough food for both parents in my bird box and their seven chicks. However, it has to be searched for each day – it does not just appear. That is a further lesson for me from the activity in my garden. Growing in Christ is not automatic – daily diligence is to be the order of the day. Today, tomorrow and every day of this coming week. That is both a challenge in itself and a delight. I really do not want to starve my soul to death.

Very Rev Dr Norman Hamilton is a retired Presbyterian minister, former Moderator of the General Assembly, and Chair of Contemporary Christianity.

Please note that the statements and views expressed in this article of those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Contemporary Christianity.