22nd April 2018
Today I want to tell you a story. It’s a story that made me see something special about God’s love for us. Jerusalem was a necessary part of Jesus’ mission. It was the capital city, the place of the Temple. The place where in the past prophets were ignored, ill treated and even killed. As Jesus drew ever closer to the city, he began to talk about our mixed up world. He honoured the poor, the ill, the outcast, the seeker and he proclaimed the coming kingdom, and this outraged those in power. And then Jesus cries ‘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! After all of what went before, why I wondered would Jesus identify himself with a mother hen?
As a youngster growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, there was a time when my family reared a few chickens, mainly for their fresh eggs. And while we did not have many chickens, I had been allowed to take one as a pet. I named her Henna. While the other hens would lay eggs and some of those eggs would hatch, Henna was never able for whatever reason to lay eggs. And so she adopted my entire family as her own brood. There were 8 of us. My father and my mother, my two brothers and three sisters and me. In fact there were ten of us if you count the dog and cat.
Jesus says How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, .... and certainly I have seen mother hens gather their brood under their wings...but Henna was not able to gather the ten of us under her wings, she was not able to take us off to a corner of the house to protect us as the other hens would do, so she did what she thought was the next best thing. When anyone came to the gate of our house, Henna would ruffle her feathers spread her wings, puff herself up and rush to the gate in the most dynamic show, and we laughed at her antics. But she was trying her very best to protect us from any danger, and in doing so she made herself vulnerable, she opened herself spread her wings wide She was willing to make herself vulnerable for our sakes. I saw from Henna’s actions, from her attempts to protect us, making herself vulnerable, just what Jesus meant. Henna felt like a mother hen and she felt that we were her brood she could not get us under her wings so she put herself forward to protect us.
Jesus too felt like a mother hen and that we are his brood. But we are unwilling to get under his wings so he put himself forward to protect us. It was Jesus‘ mission to avert the punishment due to Jerusalem, they... we were not willing so he opened himself up, spread his arms wide. For Jesus, God's passionate dream, compassionate desire, and bold determination is to gather God's human children closer and closer in God's embrace and love. That mission and commitment is at the centre of Jesus' work. Like a mother hen, God seeks to draw, embrace, include, and welcome God's children into the family of humanity that God has intended from the dawn of time itself.
so he opened himself up, spread his arms wide.
Revd. Mark Robinson