During the season of Lent, we are challenged by our memory of what is to come. We know that Good Friday is ahead and that crucifixion comes before resurrection. We know what is to come because we already have been this way. Nonetheless, we are called to care for one another, just as a mother hen cares for her chicks. Just as God cares for us. And we are called to respond to that love through action toward others, reciprocating that love. Jesus challenges our notions of who God is and our visions of God’s kingdom. We are also challenged to expand our understanding of God to include images of a strong, nurturing presence.
We know what is to come because we already have been this way. Isn't that the truth. The pattern that is shown forth in the stories of the Old Testament shows God's creation, blessing, humanity's turning away from God, God calling creation back to healing, wholeness, and reconciliation. In the midst of pain and sadness, Abraham needed God to remind him who is was and what his role would be and that God was with him. In the midst of the wandering in the wilderness and certain death, the Israelites had to be reminded at every junction that God was with them.
And that is the pattern of our lives. Each one of you has experience personally and with your friends and family of this truth. The reality of life is death, the reality of love is loss. But the reality of life is also resurrection, that's what the pattern shows us, that's what God's love tells us. What makes that so hard is that what the world counts as death, what the world counts as loss, is not at all to God. Every where we look, we are encouraged to change the way we act and feel and look to keep away our wrinkles or our sagginess or to increase our stamina or virility. Those things may be well and good and help us feel better, but God's kingdom is about being fully human, fully alive, knowing full well these bodies of ours will die.
Death is what happens when we are trying so hard to stay alive, life is what happens when we live in the reality of resurrection, when we live in the reality that Love wins. And that is the new life that is gift, and to which we must respond yes! Yes, Lord, in the midst of this pain and loneliness I will continue to love, because it is love that wins. Yes, Lord, in the midst of this heartache I will continue to love, as a mother hen loves her chicks, as you lord, love me, because it is love that wins. Yes, Lord, in the midst of the joy and gladness of my life and my heart, I will spread your love and mercy and compassion to those who have lost hope, because I am grateful.
In this passage, Jesus’ use of the mother hen image is a wonderful reminder of God’s love for all of us. It expands our imaginations. It is a mother’s love that is revealed here. And it is also a love that might seem unjustified. The people Jesus was reaching out to were known to “kill the prophets and stone those sent to you.” We may say they were unworthy of Jesus' love, that they didn’t deserve it. And the truth be known, they didn’t deserve it, none of us deserve it. But that is the truth of God's kingdom, it is not about what we deserve, because it is not about us at all. It is about God's amazing and abundant love for all of us, and for each of us, just like that mother hen and her chicks.
This passage from Luke shows us what God's kingdom looks like. Indeed, we are called to care for one another as God cares for us, as the mother hen cares for her chicks. That is God's kingdom. God's kingdom is not necessarily something waiting for us at the end of our time or the end of all time. God's kingdom is what God yearns to create with us right now, in this place, in this time. God gathers us in, cares for us, brings life to us. God's kingdom welcomes all, cares for all, nurtures all, regardless of whether or not we deserve that amazing and astounding love. Can we do any less?
During Lent we are particularly called into relationship with Jesus, just like that mother hen calls her chicks to herself so she can care for and nurture them. We are called into relationship, not because we are deserving, or wonderful, or perfect, we are called into relationship because we are loved.
So Rick and I went to a concert last night by the School of Mines Jazz band and Master Chorale. I have gone on before about how impressed I am with these engineer's musical performance, and last night I was impressed again. I heard voices that were lovely, and beautiful, and fun. They sang very complex arrangements together unaccompanied. The only way they could pull that off was to listen to each other. No one voice was more important, or less important, better than or worse than, any other. It was about all the voices, blending and soaring and supporting, that made the music. Listening to one another made the music beautiful. The relationship of all the voices, made the music even possible. I think that is a glimpse of God's kingdom. I think that is God's call into relationship. I think that is what Lent is about.
Listening to God, listening to one another, building something beautiful that not one of us can do alone. That is the journey we take with Jesus. So in the middle of one of the songs, one of the microphones completely fell apart, with a big popping noise the thing fell apart in the young man's hand. You see, it's not about perfection, it's about what we do in the midst of the reality of the journey, and how we lift one another up. It's about how we listen to each other, those we blend with well and those whose voice may be hard to hear. It's about how we listen to Jesus, whose deepest desire is to call us into himself, so that we know in the depth of our beings, that Love wins.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of The Lord.
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