Last night on the way home from work the "check engine" light abruptly came on. I called my car dealer right away, as I have an irrational fear of being stranded somewhere with my car, and I don't have a cell phone, either. The service person said since the light was not blinking, that was a good sign (if the check engine light was blinking, she said, she's advise to pull over right away and get the car towed in), but I thought it best to get it checked out right away.
So I got an appointment and spent more time than I would like at "the car place" today. I brought a book I have been reading (Preaching as Testimony, by Anna Carter Florence), and some sermon folders, so that I could work ahead.
"The Car Place" is somewhere I feel most dislocated. I am totally out of my element when I am there, at the mercy of whatever advice they mean to give me. At a bookstore -- I belong. But at the Service and Repair station, I am ignorant and incompetent.
The first thing I found out when I came is that someone signed me up for something called "Oil Change for Life." Every 3500 miles, if you take your car in, you get a free oil change. I had no idea. No one ever told me about this benefit. So I have not been taking full advantage of it.
I'm sure there's a lesson in here somewhere, right?
So, I was sitting in The Car Place, waiting for my car, and reading ahead on the lessons for a week from Sunday. You know, "I come not to bring peace, but a sword." "Anyone who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me." "Whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven." You know, fun stuff like that.
The lesson talks about sparrows, too, how not one of them falls without God noticing. Jesus tells the disciples that the hairs on their heads are all counted, that they are of more value than many sparrows. Maybe they are all at the first century version of The Car Place, and they feel out of their element, incompetent, ignorant. Maybe they look around and say to themselves, "You know, I really don't belong here. It would be really easy for people to smile and take advantage of me."
And I thought about those who are sparrows now, the ones whose lives seem to be dispensable to us (sold for a penny), like the Mexican woman I know who fled domestic abuse, and was undocumented here for awhile, like the albinos who are being murdered in Tanzania, because their bones are valuable to witch doctors. They are valuable to God, not dispensable at all, and God is willing to fight to the death for them.
Eventually the car was done, and it cost a goodly sum to repair, even with the free oil change. I am still musing on these words of Jesus.
And especially these: "So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known."
Even and especially the value of sparrows, caught in a world where they their worth is hidden.