31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33 Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
I’ve heard it said that we live in one of the most peaceful eras in history. The reason we don’t view it that way has to do with our our shrinking world. Twenty-four hour news shows give us the latest news on our computers and smart phones. Information is growing exponentially. We can’t possibly keep up with it all and how hard it is to give it a rest.
I can’t log into my email account without news headlines flashing before my eyes. Our Presidential Primary season has yielded a wealth of lies, innuendo and spin. Our trust is low. Our concern is high.
20th century theologian, Karl Barth, used to tell clergy to enter the pulpit with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. He’d have a field day if he were alive today.
Or would he?
This passage from Luke seems strange. The first part tells us about a group of Pharisees warning Jesus to get out of town because Herod is after him. Jesus has a message for Herod: “Tell that fox…” Tell that sly, destructive jackal that I’m not intimidated by the likes of him. We immediately leave the metaphor of the fox and move to the hen and her chicks.
Does Luke enjoy mixing his metaphors? Is there a message in this for us today?
Jesus knew how hard the religious elite struggled to keep their temple intact. Rome put their symbol on the temple (an eagle) to remind the worshipers that Rome was in charge. The Jews worshiped in the temple as long as they minded their p’s and q’s. As Jesus sets his face on Jerusalem, he knows he’s going there to die. There’s nothing Herod can do to harm him. When it’s time, then and only then will he go to the cross.
Jesus’ words hold authority. He knows what he’s doing and where he’s going. Rumors and paranoia don’t touch him. He has a job to do: “to bring good news to the poor… to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind (Luke 4:18.) Jesus’ words also hold submission. Not to the politics of Herod or even the Pharisees. He submits to God and moves through life with a loving message and a tough demand. Love your enemies. The last will be first. The lost are found. The least are cared for.
In the world of any time and place loving your enemies isn’t our way of life. The first are first, the last can get in line. The lost and the least are bound up, often unable to pull themselves out.
So where’s the good news, you ask? In the hen. While we make our way through this world trying to avoid the land mines of paranoia, misinformation and outright lies, Jesus stands close by yearning: “How I desire to gather you like little chicks under my wings.”
What does it look like to live under the shelter of God’s love while the politicians argue it out? What does it mean to be sheltered like a chick while Isis does it’s best to terrorize?
It means that we read the paper, or our smart phones or watch the TV news in deep prayer, trying to understand what’s happening through the words and teachings of Christ. It means seeing God active in the chaos and vitriol.
Being sheltered doesn’t mean we hide. Nor does it give us permission to ignore what’s going on around us. What that shelter does is remind us that the leaders of this world are only that: leaders of THIS world. They are human and they make mistakes as humans do. Some more egregiously than others. Being sheltered reminds us that God is still in charge, that God will act when God acts and that we can breathe.
What does it look like to read the news with your faith in Christ in tact? How does it feel to research some of the rumors and paranoia to discover the fact within the fiction?
Jesus disdained the Herod’s of this world. His enemies had no power over him. He completed his work on the third day, triumphing over death. When he cried out from the cross, “It is finished!” we know that it was only the beginning.
Give yourself permission to feel God’s shelter. Be a good citizen by learning what you can about the facts. Vote your conscious. Serve the least, the last and the lost who cross your path. And rest.
Rest under the shelter of God’s wings knowing that whatever happens, God is present and at work in the storms of this world.
All glory and honor be to God.