(Also in mp3.)
One of the most striking images in the New Testament is the one Jesus uses here. Jesus is warned that he might be killed by Herod if he keeps doing what he’s doing. Jesus then notes that he is not in Jerusalem yet, so it is not the place for him to die. Jerusalem is the Big Shot place, the home of the Temple and headquarters of the authorities, the ones who usually do such killings. (Keep in mind : that is where he ended up dying. But that is yet to come.)
Then, Jesus lets his emotions out. “How I’d love to gather you under My wings”, He says, “but you would not be gathered.” This is God the Mother Hen, trying to hide the chicks from the fox (the Herods of the world). Important as that may be, the main thrust of Jesus’ saying is not in the image of God he uses, it’s in what the little chicks do. They refuse to be guarded. They won’t stay under the wing! The result is that they will be left “desolate”. Maybe the fox will have little chicken nuggets for lunch; or, they’ll just get lost in the cold world and freeze or starve. Their survival depends on the mother hen, but these bird-brains want nothing of it !
Who scurries out from under the wing?
- Is it today’s person, master builder of her/his own personal world by way of modern technology?
- is it the force-full, cocky macho street tough? Or perhaps those who love to fantasize about being one as they lay on the couch swilling beer and watching TV sports?
- is it the one who has the business cable channel on their TV at all times, in order not to miss the market move or inside tip that will make him/her a multi-millionaire?
- is it the church activist, bitter at the very idea of being tucked under the same wing as those they take to be their enemy, trying to push or pull them out from under the warmth of Christ’s body?
- is it you and I when we want to keep power over our lives all to ourselves, not giving it over to God, or not really letting the other chicks of the flock snuggle up close to us under God’s wings?
We who think ourselves secure stop thinking that way when that which is bigger than us shows its force. Like, say, a hurricane and flood. Or an earthquake and tsunami. Or an economic downturn that leaves many — perhaps even you? — out of a house or a job, with no idea what’s coming next. The world we create for ourselves gets shown to be a cartoon world, with liquid eraser dumped all over it. When that happens, many people scurry back to God, only to run away once the threat is gone. Keep in mind the lesson of the current hard times: God is there, and God cares, even when we think ourselves to be beyond danger’s reach. Because God knows we aren’t.
Lord, teach me to trust you and your love for me. Tuck me under your wings. Keep me safe from the foxes prowling in my life. Amen.
A challenge: Most of us know at least one person or family who’s lost much during the current economic upheavals. Think a moment about some way, small or large, in which you can lend a servant-hand to them. Then, do it.