The sparrow and the swallow look down to the world of men, seeking to find a place safe enough to lay their young until they too can fly away from the world where revenge is heavy and fear is horizontal. It is a surprise, therefore, that it is on an altar of all places, that place stained with the color of the borrowed innocence of sparrows and swallows, that the most vulnerable of all are the safest of all.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Jesus).
It is not God the sparrow fears. God’s altar is as peaceful as the morning snow for those whose heart knows no violence. It is, in fact, men who make the bird’s home a human altar. It is only when God’s sparrows come to the altar in human hands that nests are destroyed in a lust for grace.
But God does not delight in broken bones of the innocent (Ps. 40; 51; Heb. 10) anymore than Jesus delighted in the cross (Lk. 22:39-46). He delights only in broken spirits, broken spirits and contrite hearts (Ps. 51), in the sacrifice of remorse–for the loss of innocence and the cost of grace; for empty nests and red-stained hands; for violent murders and violent protests; for unjust courts and unjust streets; for weeping mothers and fatherless children; for all those hugless homes that harden little boys and undress desperate daughters, malnourished nests where the broken-winged fall to the ground as blood-thirsty snakes. God delights not in bleeding hands but in a bleeding heart, in the human who learns how to love like him or at least how to cry like the sparrow.
How costly for God is the gift of innocent blood. How outrageous is his decision to kill everything that is pure to redeem everything that is not. How sad is the place where the morning song has been silenced by the hammering night.
How tragically precious is that place where God laid his Young so that we could find a home.