In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, to the praise of his glory.
Ring out your joy to the Lord, O you just;
for praise is fitting for loyal hearts.
Give thanks to the Lord upon the harp,
with a ten-stringed lute sing him songs. (R./)
For the word of the Lord is faithful
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right
and fills the earth with his love. (R./)
They are happy, whose God is the Lord,
the people he has chosen as his own.
From the heavens the Lord looks forth,
he sees all the children of men. (R./)
As the crowd gathered in thousands, so that they trampled on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.
"I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows."
At our very centre is a gifted dignity deeper than any good that we do, which puts us at ease with God. Ephesians says we have received something like a "down payment" or "first instalment" of eternal life, just as a pregnant woman has within her a new life, as yet unborn. She has the foretaste, but must wait for the birth. She holds the future within her, but is still guessing what it will be like.
We are said to be "sealed with the Holy Spirit," the pledge of our future. Paul can offer no logical explanation for this, but that we were "chosen, predestined" by our loving God. We were loved before we could love in return, chosen to be God's very own people. Our life should then be lived in praise to God's glory. If our life and its growth and fulfilment are due to grace, how free and confident we can be in God's presence.
The exuberant liberty of spirit is repeated in the gospel. What was said in the dark we proclaim from rooftops. If our merciful God cares about sparrows and the small details of creation, then we need fear nothing. "You are more precious than many sparrows." The grace of this God makes us free, confident and already part-way to heaven.
The words about sparrows are a key statement about God. The sparrow was a very common bird of no great distinction. Yet not one sparrow is forgotten in God's sight. God knows even the least and smallest of creatures. If the humble sparrow is cherished and cared for by God, how much more are we cherished and cared for, says the Lord.
God knows the smallest detail of our lives. In the larger scheme of things this vergest on the incredible. If God the Creator is transcendent above all things, worthy of reverence and awe ('the fear of the Lord) how can He pay attention to each individual in this crowded world? Yet Jesus assures us that God is a caring Abba-Father close to us and caring for each one. If that is so, we can trust ourselves to God without reserve.