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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lent 2C Luke 13:31-35

The Fox and the Hen

Luke 13:31-35

Luke 13:31-35 Jesus, having been warned that Herod, a Jewish king given power by the Romans, wanted to kill him, smartly remarked, “Go and tell that fox…”
Now calling someone a fox in this respect is NOT a compliment. This is not the Fonz talking about a girl he met! This is an insult, and the rumor that Jesus had insulted him was enough to send Herod into a rage and order Jesus to be executed.What does a fox do? My only concept of foxes comes from cartoons. The fox runs after the chickens. Many have seen the Fox and the Hound, a story about a hound dog and a fox becoming friends as cubs but having to part ways because of their differences. Foxes are generally seen as cunning, sneaky.Sometimes they kill all the hens in one roost. It is a man like this that Jesus tells, “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside Jerusalem”

And then he calls himself a hen as he mourns Jerusalem. “I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing.”

“Jerusalem, oh Jerusalem.…” Jerusalem was a symbol for the entire nation of Israel, the holy city, the place where prophets are killed. How Jesus longed to comfort his people and to show them He LOVED them! But they are not willing!
If you ever loved someone who resisted your protection, then you understand the pain of Jesus’ lament. All you can do is open your arms. You cannot make anyone come into your embrace. Meanwhile, you find yourself in the most vulnerable posture in the world –arms (wings) spread, breast exposed. If you really want to protect, then you find yourself in a vulnerable position.
Even chicks know to stay close to their mother. And human mothers know the sound of their baby’s cry…the baby who doesn’t want to be separated from the place where love, food, and care comes from.
It is the fox who chases the hen…Herod, the king, chasing Jesus. Who is going to win when the fox enters the henhouse? But the story plays out a different way then expected.

Once a firefighter came upon an eagle’s nest after a forest fire had raged across the landscape. The eagle, stiff, charged, dead—the firefighter kicked the bird away. All of a sudden peeping filled the air. The chicks had survived because the mother had given her life to save them.
Jesus did this for us.

Yet even when Jerusalem kills prophet after prophet, God keeps sending more. This gracious God is the mother hen who makes repeated attempts to gather her chicks, but the chicks refuse and go their own way. God coaxes, he pleads, but he does not force.

God allows us to go our own way when we choose, and then we suffer the consequences of being outside of his spread of wings.
Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his pinions (the outer part of a birds wing, the part that enables flight), and under his wings you will find refuge.”

When we insist on going our own way God opens up his arms to us. When you sit with arms crossed, aloof, you are giving the sign you want to protect yourself. But when you open your arms to anyone you not only risk rejection, you expose your heart to the world. You make yourself completely vulnerable.
The hen spreads her wings to protect the chicks and they are nailed to a cross.
And the hen sees the fox coming and when he slithers up to her she sounds an alarm and the chicks scatter. But the fox kills the hen.

She told the fox she would rather die than let him have her chicks.

And she does.

(A special thanks to Richard Fairchild at for inspiring and influencing this sermon)

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