Audio 2 Lent Yr C March 17 2019
Genesis 15:1-12,17-18, Philippians 3:17-4:1, Luke 13:31-35, Psalm 27
All of Luke’s gospel is seen and heard through the lens of it’s beginning, Mary’s song, the Magnificat, “he has scattered the proud in their conceit, cast down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.” And then Luke points us to God’s fulfillment of all things. Everything in between and along the way reminds us that God is coming to rule in peace and justice. So it isn’t much of a surprise that in Luke’s gospel, Jesus’ ministry attracts opposition. In this piece of Luke we have today, the Pharisees warn Jesus of Herod’s opposition, and Jesus replies, “go and tell that fox for me, I am about the work upending the powerful, and including those unclean and those on the margins.” No wonder Jesus attracted opposition.
Jesus laments those who do not hear, those who do not follow, those who will not be gathered and protected as a hen protects her brood. I think Jesus sounds a bit petulant, irritated, ill-tempered because what for him seems obvious, is not so to the others. Because the way things are, the status quo, benefits the mighty on their thrones, but not those with whom Jesus lives and breathes and has his being. Jesus attracts the opposition because he understands his work to fill the hungry with good things. And for all of that, Herod, that fox, wants to kill him.
So Luke’s gospel, from Mary’s song all the way to the passion shows us what Jesus’ journey to the cross looks like, and what our journey with Jesus looks like. It shows us that not just Lent but our whole lives matter because it both witnesses to and is empowered by the love of a God who will not give up on God’s people. Ever. And it’s amazing to think that in the small and large things we do out of love, the God who created the heavens and earth from nothing and raised Jesus’ from death is still at work in us and through us for the sake of the world.
All that said, I can hear Obi Wan Kenobi say to Luke Skywalker as begin their journey together, “Luke, it is your destiny.” Jesus’ destiny is the cross in Jerusalem, as well as the resurrection to come. Jesus sets his face to Jerusalem as he leaves the devil in the wilderness, and the journey Jesus takes is a long and winding road. Given the opposition Jesus experiences the whole of the journey, Jesus shows some mighty determination and perseverance on this way, because there’s no way you can utter the words of Mary’s song, there’s no way you can preach a sermon like Jesus did in Nazareth, remember that one, Jesus said the scripture was fulfilled in their hearing and they wanted to throw him over the cliff, and expect acceptance or a world-viewed happy ending.
The trouble for us is that our human nature often causes us to give up or give in to difficulty, or pain, or sorrow. The trouble is that we humans fail. And we let the difficulties and the challenges of what lies ahead to redirect our intentions. Of course, this is not to suggest that we could ever do what Jesus did. Only Jesus could and can go to the cross. To be clear, the ability of Jesus to shoulder what was to come his way is not ours to bear. And it never will be. But, Jesus’ determination on the way shows us, maybe even makes it possible for us to continue on our way with similar determination and perseverance.
God is at work with Jesus, and God is at work with you and through you. So what gets in the way of our good intentions? What knocks us off the path, what is it that diverts our attention away from mercy and justice and the way of love? Often the wills and ways of the world knock us down, throw us off the path. Often it is of our own doing, we sabotage ourselves. We set ourselves up for failure when we expect perfection of ourselves.
But it’s also the great violence of human beings. It ‘s hard to keep loving when over and over, again and again, we hear news of people being killed while they are at worship. And it’s the great violence of our natural world, fanned by our own human failure to change the way we treat this fragile earth our island home, we witness and experience wind, snow, floods.
But the good news is that in the midst of pain and suffering, Jesus walks with us. God doesn’t take away the pain and suffering, but God comes in flesh and blood, to show us what love looks like. And 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 indeed it brings us back to Mary’s song.
But it is also a love that might seem unjustified. Isn’t it true that sometimes we hear ourselves think, and some even say out loud, those people don’t deserve God’s love, that person is a monster, surely he will never be saved. Those people are the people in this story. Jesus was reaching out to those who 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, or what we don’t deserve.
None of those people deserve to die while at worship. None of those people deserve to have their home destroyed by tornado or snow hurricanes. It’s not about what we deserve or don’t deserve. None of us deserve God's amazing and abundant love. And yet, Jesus.
This journey of Lent calls us to intentionally walk this way of love. And that matters. As you live and breath in all the places you go, work, school, be the one who loves, be the one brings mercy.
Sometimes the strength within you is not a big firey flame for all to see, it is just a tiny spark that whispers ever so softly; you got this, keep going, keep loving. Amen.