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HYMN FOR PENTECOST II Calling of St. Matthew: "Midst Leaves and Sparrow Feathers/Jesus' Call

Updated: Jun 10, 2023

Text: Lisbeth Smedegaard Andersen Tune: Preben Andreassen

Tr. Gracia Grindal

The calling of Matthew. Caravaggio

'Midst leaves and sparrow feathers

And some broken shards of clay

A dried up flower, a shattered cup

And words from yesterday

We see a fragile witness

of the things we once held close

a hand, a voice that sounded once

And not so long ago.

A shadow of dark feathers

toward an end that never ends

So listen! time like water

Drops down through my folded hands.

It whispers like an echo

Of the things that broke apart

And we still have some steps to go

And yet, and yet, and yet.

Some bread, some wine can show us

Of a life that was destroyed

Good Friday night on Golgatha,

Then rose again in joy!

To love is what we live for

What we risk our lives to do

To lose it all so we can find it

It is what love is for.

'Midst leaves and sparrow feathers

And the fragile things that break

We find the word eternity

in every step we take.


The calling of Matthew to be a disciple is one of the more pictured scenes in the New Testament.This by Caravaggio shows Jesus' hand reaching out to Matthew like the picture of God creating Adam by Michelangelo.He is making a disciple, the artist seems to suggest, I think. Jesus calls into his service someone the people around him might call chief of sinners, or at least one they had good reason for hating. When you think about it, it is sinners God uses to bring his good news to the world. All his disciples are sinners. It is all he has. We don’t really apply for the job; God calls us. And, as Jesus says, he will make us into disciples, not look at our resumes and decide whether we will fit his job description. He fits us for the job. And, he comes to visit us; he receives our hospitality with joy. There is every reason for joy. God is with us. He continues his creation in us to the end, working us like the a potter works clay to make a useful and even lovely shape.

I think of a hymn by Lisbeth Smedegaard Andersen in Denmark. She saw some trash in the street and began to think of how God makes something beautiful and eternal out of the broken and wasted. “We find the word eternity/in every step we take.” God is in the business of making something new, especially us.

This makes Lisbeth want to celebrate. As Jesus celebrates with Matthew. As I wrote my hymn on Matthew, also below, I was filled with joy and surprise at the joy Jesus gives and expresses during the meal at Matthew’s house. It offends many people how much Jesus loved parties and still does. That should not surprise us: he is often pictured as a groom wooing his sinful bride the church, even dying to bring her to the joyful wedding feast on high.

Jesus healing the women with an issue of blood from the catacombs

All through his ministry he brings joy and wholeness to us. Here we see him bring joy into the lives of the two he heals in the lesson for Sunday—healing the woman with an issue of blood who dared to touch the hem of his garment and felt suddenly the power surging through her, stopping the flow. And the young girl falling into darkness and death, suddenly being awakened into life—going to dinner with her parents again!

Jesus doesn’t want to take us out of this world, he wants to grace us—to heal us so we can joyfully celebrate this life with him and our friends and family. He came to fit us for heaven by fitting us for life here on earth. To fit us he has to change us, heal us, raise us up out of darkness into the light. It is what he came to do. Rejoice! This makes all things new as Lisbeth also wrote in an Advent piece.


”Alt er nyt og forandret her

for os der er små og svage

for Kristus selv er vor hverdagsdrøm

er evighedshåbet i tidernes strøm

– vi lever i nådens dage.”


All is new, yes, all things are changed

For those of us weak and yearning

In Christ himself all is new as a dream

Eternal bright hope in our time’s flowing stream

--The day of his grace is returning.


Lisbeth is Denmark’s most well known hymn text writer today. She has been a pastor in the Danish church, a writer of hymns, poems, books on religious art in Denmark and most recently finished a book on women in the Bible.


("Midst Leaves" is not on Youtube, but the song about newness is at this link, part of an Advent program of nine lessons and hymns Lisbeth wrote some years ago.)

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