Several years ago, I took an overnight retreat at the old family farm. In the morning, I made coffee and sat on the front porch. I heard honking kind of bird sound from the field across the road. I walked across the yard until I could see the pair of sandhill cranes.

I was delighted with the opportunity to see and hear these two birds.

That’s the story that came to mind when Nancy gave me my word for writing this post. “Cranes,” she said.

She said it as we were driving across the middle part of Nebraska, after seeing sandhill cranes. We saw flocks in the air. We saw clusters in fields. We saw row upon row next to waterholes.

I’m guessing we saw many thousands of cranes, the same kind of cranes I saw in the field at the farm. Perhaps even the same pair, though I didn’t recognize them at all. In fact, I didn’t try to recognize them. I was captivated by the sheer quantity.

I think Jesus isn’t captivated by the sheer quantity of anything. Of the people who pay attention to our voices, by the number of people we attract to our churches, by the number of acts of service we perform. And he certainly isn’t overwhelmed by the sheer number of us.

When Jesus was sending his disciples out in pairs on a ministry internship, he needed a way to let them know that they were known. So he turned to birds. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” Jesus said. “Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. … You are worth much more than sparrows.”

When we get caught up in numbers and forget the value of each person, each bird, we can be grateful that we are not viewed simply as part of a massive flock.

We are known and valued each by each.


From Matthew 10