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Scripture Reading: Psalm 27

Show and Tell

In the next scripture reading, Jesus compares himself to a mother hen who wants to wrap us up and keep us safe. He’s made some folks nervous that Herod, the so-called king of the region, is going to try to kill Jesus. Jesus says that Herod is like a fox; what are foxes like? (Mean, tricky, conniving, dangerous to chickens.)

Here’s how hens protect their chicks, covering them up with their wings. They want to shield the chicks and look big to scare the fox away. They may not be bigger than the fox, but they know their love is. Jesus’ love is even bigger than that.

This Mosaic from Dominus Flevit church is a picture of a mosaic from a very early Christian church. Let this remind you how big Jesus’ love is.

Scripture Reading: Luke 13:31-35

Meditation

When Ian was small and I could entertain him by pushing him in a stroller, I was training for a marathon (I ended up running a half instead). In the training plan I used, the longest training run would be about 20 miles. I was talking about that with another runner, and he said, sure 20 miles is long enough – the next 6.2 miles will feel like the first 20 all over again.

There are points, especially when you’ve almost accomplished something, where continuing on is harder than quitting. The third year of college, or parenting teenagers, or when the mountain climb goes above 10,000 feet. The barrier gets higher and harder before you break through it.

This is also true when you’re rebuilding a relationship. After an estrangement, coming back together can feel great, like the new start it really is. Then at some point, old hurts come back and test what’s growing in the renewed relationship.

Quitting at these tough points almost makes sense. The new possibilities are challenging and uncertain. It seems more trustworthy, it’s certainly more predictable, to go back. But turning back at that point puts more trust in the past than the future.

There’s a famous line, which was borrowed from a labor activist and is often mis-attributed, that applies to relationships, revolutions, and other goals: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, and then they attack and burn you, and then they build monuments to you.” It gets harder, even dangerous, just before it works out.

The Pharisees know the attack is coming. The Roman leadership seems to be getting nervous. So they appeal to Jesus: skip town until things cool off. That’s sensible and safe.

Jesus’ response is effectively, “Nothing Herod has can stop me.” Herod’s power comes from violence, fear, and extortion. Fearing these things leads to more of the same. Jesus trusts God instead. He’s doing God’s work and proceeds from that confidence. He’s not being imprudent exactly, because he gives himself to something greater than Herod, and so he gathers us under his wings at the cross.

My story of trust is smaller than that. When we were preparing for Ian’s adoption, just as we were starting the process, it was hard to figure out how we’d make the out-of-pocket costs work out. Finally Leanne said to me, “We need to just trust this God you keep talking about.” And I can tell you, with help from the church, and family, and even the health care reform bill, things have worked out fabulously. With all the regular and unusual bumps along the way, but still fabulously.

That’s the power of what Jesus is up to. That’s the power of trusting God, the gift of gathering under the wings of our Light and our Salvation. Thanks be to God.

Amen.

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