Recently my Prescott neighbors told me a story about a family of quail that visited their back patio. They were alerted to the birds by the insistent calling of the mother—a distinctive noise that went on for a full 45 minutes. She had 13 babies in tow. Finally, it got quiet when the father arrived with the 14th chick, which had been lost on the hillside below. It was only then that the covey of quail moved on its way. I said, “Wow! That’s a story with great biblical implications! Thank you for giving me an idea for my next newsletter blurb!”
We all know Jesus’ Parable of the Lost Sheep (Matthew 18:11-14 and Luke 15:3-7), and how in God’s kingdom, God, the Good Shepherd, leaves the flock of 99 to go in search of the lost one, because that one matters most in that particular moment. This story tells us something of God’s preferential care of the lost, the marginalized, and the oppressed. In the context of being lost, that one life mattered most at that point in time. Like the parents in the covey of quail, the Good Shepherd would not move any of the flock on their way until He had restored the lost one.
This story has eternal application. Note that the 99 in the parable aren’t all baaing, “All lives matter! Let’s just enjoy our safe, privileged place and get on with things!” Jesus’ point in the parable is that there are contexts when we must depart from the “all” and focus on the lost, the least. In so many ways, God’s economy is very different from ours. We have such a context now. For us, in our time, the ones who have endured hardship generation after generation need us to redress wrongs and restore justice.
I’ve been actively immersed in anti-racism training through our denomination for the past four Saturdays. To hear people of color tell their stories has been emotional and heartbreaking—we just can’t imagine the depth of their pain, but engagement with them helped. I hope you can hear stories like the ones I heard. You can gain a deeper understanding by reading books like “White Fragility,” “So You Want to Talk about Race,” and “The New Jim Crow.” Or you can watch films like “Tell Them We are Rising” (on You Tube) or visit here https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/film-tv/gmp32961462/black-history-movies-anti-racism/ for other film suggestions. When we truly redress the roots of our wrongs, provide real justice for all, and seek out the lost, society may indeed find peace and quiet like that covey of quail finally did, and be able to move on.