Friday, March 30, 2007

Sunday of the Passion/Palm Sunday

April 1, 2007

Text: Luke 1928-40, Luke 23:1-49

I went to a preaching seminar this week, held at Gordon-Conwell Seminary’s Charlotte campus. The leader was Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie, former chaplain to the US Senate and longtime pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, CA.

Dr. Ogilvie told about a time he was in a jewelry store in LA, picking up a new watch battery. While he was there a young woman came in and asked to see some crosses. The clerk took her to a display case and proceeded to show her a selection of large, expensive crosses, larger and more expensive than anything I’ve ever worn for preaching; more like the fashion accessory crosses worn by hot actresses and hip rap stars.

The young woman said, “Oh, I don’t want anything like that. I want an everyday cross.”

AN EVERYDAY CROSS, she said. And when Dr. Ogilvie told that story, I began to wonder, “What is an everyday cross?” And more importantly, I thought, “Does she, do I, does any of us, really want one?”

All of us want, I suppose, the Cross of Christ in our lives. We want the salvation that Cross promises, we want to know that our sins are forgiven, our failures are forgotten, our souls rescued from the pit of Hell by Jesus’ death there on that awful instrument of torture and execution. That Cross and its benefits we know we want in our lives.

But what about an everyday cross? What about a cross that is uniquely ours? A cross that we pick up in obedience to our Lord’s invitation to take up a cross and follow Him? Is that a cross we want?

Do any of you remember a time back in the sixties, back in the days before cable TV and the NC Lottery, back when we were all more easily entertained, when they had the Super Market Races on TV? I don’t remember all the details, but I remember watching.
They were sponsored by a supermarket chain and worked something like this: they showed taped races from New York and California horse tracks and the stores ran specials and gave out prizes depending on which horse won.

My late father-in-law used to tell a joke about two farms boys (we’ll call them Bill and Jack) watching the Supermarket race after supper one night.Bill said, “I bet you $5 horse #3 wins.” And Jack said, “you’re on!” Sure enough, #3 won. Bill grinned and said, “Aw, I can’t take your money. I saw it last night on the other channel and knew #3 won.” And Jack replied, “Go ahead and take it. I saw it too, but I didn’t think he could do it again.”

Those of us here today, hearing again the story of Jesus’ crucifixion are like those two farm boys; we have already heard this story and we know how it comes out, we already know about the Resurrection, we already know who wins.

And the issue of FAITH comes down to this, either we believe he can do it again, or we don’t!

You see, it is one thing to sit in this lovely, well-appointed, air-conditioned room and look back at the Cross of Christ as an historic event, over and done, and to profess our faith that Jesus died there and three days later rose again.

It is quite another thing to hang on the other side of the cross, to hang where the Cross is still a present event, and to profess faith in Jesus.

That is where the question of whether or not we truly want an everyday cross is a real question.That is where the two thieves are, hanging with Jesus on the other side of the cross, where the end of the story is still in doubt.

One rejects and reviles Jesus, the other, miracle of miracles, hangs there upon his own, everyday cross, and professes faith in the dying Jesus who hangs there with him.

We are mistaken if we see the Cross of Christ as a past event, over and done.
Each of us, in one way or another, hangs upon a cross with Christ.

It may be a personal cross, a cross of suffering and illness, or a cross of shame and embarrassment, or a cross of loss and confusion, or a cross of fear and frustration.

It may be a cultural cross, a cross of rejection and alienation, a cross of being an outsider in an insider’s world, of being the wrong gender or color or nationality or oreintation.

It may be a cross of caring, a cross of being aware of the suffering and pain of others,
of being concerned for those who are poor or oppressed or hungry or unjustly imprisoned.

Whatever it is, somehow, someway, each of us hangs there on our everyday cross with Jesus, and the question of faith is: We have seen this race before. We know God brought Jesus forth from the grave; do we really and truly believe God can and will DO IT AGAIN!

That is the essence of faith, that is truly what Martin Luther meant when he said that a true Christian theology was a Theology of the Cross.

Do we indeed believe that there is Hope in our hardship, Salvation in our suffering, Redemption in our rejection, Everlasting life in OUR everyday cross?

Can we look from our cross to the Cross of Christ and cry out from the bottom of our hearts: JESUS, REMEMBER ME WHEN YOU COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM!?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fifth Sunday in Lent: RCL Texts for March 25, 2007

So, every Tuesday I meet with five or six Lutheran pastors in Greensboro NC and we talk about the texts for the week. Every week someone takes the role of discussion leader. We all have different styles, and it is an interesting way to get into the texts early in the week. I was presenter this week and what I am presenting are the notes/discussion guide I prepared for the meeting. Delmer

FIRST LESSON: Isaiah 43:16-21
a) part of Second Isaiah’s preaching to the Judean Exiles in Babylon
b) God used Nebuchadnezzar to Punish Israel
God will use Cyrus of Syria to liberate them

Throughout OT, the Exodus is the constantly cited and remembered as the principal redemptive act of God, verse 16-17 is part of this tradition, referencing the Red Sea victory over Pharaoh’s army. Here, in this text, Second Isaiah suddenly shifts gears and says, ”Don’t remember it!” Why?

Israel in exile had decided that God had forgotten her – that she was as good as dead. Even when Israel remembered the Exodus, the Red Seas victory, that was old news, back then, and that had no hope for NOW!

I am about to do a new thing! God is still speaking, as the UCC says.
Are we still listening?

Key questions for Christians: “Do we believe that the God who acted in Jesus Christ is the same Creator, King and Holy One who is continuing to act in our lives here and now, or have we become purely secular people, like the rest of our society, who say, “Sure, I believe in God, but I don’t think he does anything.” Elizabeth Achtemeier.

SECOND LESSON: Philippians 3:4b-14
Two sections: one: uselessness of the law; the other: a sports analogy.
1) uselessness of the law, Paul’s compares his “great credentials” to skybalon; “dung, excrement, leavings, refuse,
Paul does not reject God’s law, he rejects the confidence that he had in himself because he kept the law.

2) The analogy from sports, TRACK specifically.
Two motivations for an athlete to perform well
1) to make the team
2) for the sake of the team.

Point one, we don’t have to work to make the team, but we are encouraged to live a Christian life because we are on the team.

Point two, in a competition, forgetting past failures and successes is essential to staying focused on the task of the moment. “shake off” that past mistake, don’t live in the glory of that triumph, stay focused on NOW.

GOSPEL LESSON: John 12:1-8
Setting: visiting the home of Lazarus, not long after the death and raising incident. He is there for deipnon; a word that indicates more than a meal, but a celebratory eating together. When I was a child, we ate supper every night, but occasionally, Daddy took Mama out for Dinner, or the church had “Dinner on the grounds” or, after we got a Fellowship Hall, “a covered Dish Dinner.”

This incident is recorded in all the Gospels:

Mark 14:3-9, Mt. 26:6-13 – on head, in Bethany, two days before Passover
Luke 7:36-38 – un-named “sinful woman” at house of Simon the Pharisee

In all three of the Synoptics, there is much criticism of Jesus for submitting to this. The early church merged the “sinful woman” and “Mary” and “Mary Magdalene” and the “woman taken in adultery.”

Re: the Nard – the word for “pure” is pistikos from pisteuo “to believe, to have faith, to know (e-pist-emology) it means, genuine, real or true.

A pound is an extraordinarily large amount, like a gallon of perfume, no wonder the house was filled with the aroma.

Mary – is represented in Luke and John as always at Jesus’ feet
Luke 10:38-42 – listening at his feet
John 11: 20, 33 – weeping at his feet
John 12: 3 – anointing at his feet

In terms of this anointing, to put it on the head was an anointing for honor,
but putting it on the feet is preparation for burial.

A Jewish woman, only let down her hair for her husband in the bedroom,
And in distress and mourning.

The Judas interaction: 300 denarii, a day laborer’s yearly wage.
Play on words, bastazo to carry the purse, also means to steal
Like lift in English means both to pick up and to steal.

“leave her alone” is aphes which is the same word translated forgive in the Lord’s prayer. It is also the word Jesus used when he told people to untie Lazarus’ bandages and “let him go” release him,

aphes + leave him alone, let him go, release him, freedom, forgive

Reformed tradition says “debts” and “debtors” – being released from one’s debts, freed from the obligation to pay. For us to be forgiven is to be released from the obligation of paying for our sins.

An odd scene: Where are we in the picture:

Wild Mary, risking all to show her love and gratefulness to Jesus.

Steady Martha, fixing and serving the meal, probably standing in the kitchen doorway, staring aghast at her always over the top sister.

Smug Judas, piously and self-righteously droning on about the poor.

Scandalized John, who can think of nothing better to do than say that smug Judas was a thief anyway, so he didn’t really care about the poor.

And what doers Jesus mean about having the poor with you always and him only now?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Fourth Sunday in Lent, RCL for March 18, 2007

Lent 4
March 18, 2007
Text: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

Have you heard the old joke about the man who robbed a liquor store and got sent to prison? On his first day there, he was sitting in the dining hall at lunch and suddenly a man stood up and shouted 37! And everybody laughed. After a while another man stood up and shouted 52! And everybody chuckled and smiled. After a few more minutes somebody else stood and yelled 86! And again, everyone laughed. The new guy leaned over toward the man across from him and said, “What’s going on? Why is everyone laughing at those numbers?

The man said, “It’s like this. There are only a hundred or so jokes in the world, and in here you hear them all. We decided to save time and give them numbers.”

Wishing to fit in and win friends, the new convict screwed up his courage and decided to give it a try. “17!” he yelled out while standing. Nobody laughed, nobody looked at him, finally he sat down, mystified. “What happened?” he asked his new friend. The man shrugged and said, “Oh, some people know how to tell a joke, and some people don’t.”

There are certain stories in the Bible that are like the numbered jokes. As a preacher, one feels all one needs do is stand up and say, feelingly, “The Good Samaritan,” or “The Widow’s Mite” or today’s Gospel lesson, “The Prodigal Son,” and then nothing else need be said; the story is so familiar that it is difficult to find anything new or interesting to say.

Or, perhaps, the problem is that we, as listeners, think we know what it means, so that we really quit listening during the Gospel lesson, the way we quit listening to someone tell a joke when we’ve already heard it. And when we stop listening, we rob ourselves of the opportunity of letting the Holy Spirit teach us something new, this time.

It is a familiar story, isn’t it? Most of us would summarize it something like William Loader does in his Internet commentary:

Arrogant young man insults father (give me what I could have if you were dead!), leaves home to make his fortune (familiar enough then and now), hits rock bottom (especially a Jew winding up in the piggery), comes to his senses and goes home (motivation far from noble at this point). Father, not knowing anything but that the son is coming, abandons cultural norms of fatherly dignity, runs to embrace son.

At one level, it works as heart-warming story of a father’s love. At another level, it is a parable or allegory about God’s love. And at a still different level, it is an accusation against some people then and some people now, who are less than loving. And at an even more important level it is a call to us to expand the horizons of our witness to the world about the love of God. Let’s look at it.

A few years ago dear Abby printed a letter in which the writer had told of an incident that happened in her Italian hometown back in the 1930’s. It was customary for the village Priest to sit at cards with the men of the village one night a week. This card game was held at the village pub, with a beer or two consumed by all. One night the priest arose from the table shortly before midnight with the words, “I best be getting home, so my neighbors can go to bed and get some sleep.” The Priest was being watched and his behavior was being judged.

That is how our story opens, Jesus was being watched and his behavior was being judged.
We begin with the first three verses of Luke 15.

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

For the Pharisees and Scribes, the point of the religious life was to follow God’s laws and rules to the letter and to avoid spiritual contamination by contact with those who didn’t. They were not particularly concerned about the sinners, they did not care if those who did not strictly obey the Law were unhappy, or in need, or in pain, or far from God. They did not consider that their problem. Their only concern was their own happiness, their own needs, their own ease, their own relationship with God.

Now, instead of arguing with them, or yelling at them, or ignoring them, Jesus did what he usually did; he smiled and told them a story, which is what you should always do when children get mean and spiteful and need a nap.

Actually, he told them three stories, of which the Prodigal Son is the third. The other two are the Story of the Lost Sheep and the Story of the Lost Coin. We probably should call this the Story of the Lost Boy.

In each of these stories Jesus sets out to show the judgmental people that God is nothing like they have imagined. God is not a harsh and distant, a fierce and holy deity for whom justice is more important than mercy.

The God revealed in the 3 stories in Luke 15 was like a shepherd who wandered around all night to find one lost sheep, or like a woman who swept and cleaned and searched throughout her house to find a lost coin, or like an old man who sat on the porch, straining his eyes as he stared down the road to the mailbox, hoping against hope to catch a glimpse of a lost boy.

The challenge is pretty clear. While some were willing to write off the LOST, Jesus says God is unwilling to lose anyone. Whereas some would blame the sheep for straying from the fold, Jesus says that God is out and about in the world, searching for us in order to bestow blessings on us; whereas some are willing to leave hidden those who get lost in the shuffle of life; unable to shine forth; Jesus says God is like a woman who searches and searches until she finds that coin, that talent, that hidden shy one, and brings it forth and shows it off.

And while some have no use for human beings who waste their potential, who squander their God-given talents on selfish and narcissistic pleasures, Jesus says God is like a loving Father, who welcomes us home, indeed who yearns and aches for us to come home, and who celebrates wildly when we get there.

Indeed, a common thread running through all these stories is a note of Happiness, of Joy, of Celebration:

The Lost Sheep: Rejoice with me! I have found my lost sheep! And Jesus comments, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who do not need to repent.”

The Lost Coin: Rejoiced with me! I have found the coin that I lost! And Jesus says, “In the same way there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.”

The Lost Boy: here we have the most elaborate and festive Joy and celebration yet. Robes and Rings and Shoes and fatted calves and a band and whatever else the Father could think of to celebrate with.

And then there’s the elder brother, a factor we often over look, and which, I think, is the whole point of the story, indeed of all the stories.

The Elder brother looks on and begins to resent his Father’s attention to the younger brother. He is jealous and angry, and he has a good point. I’m been good and you never gave me a party. He’s been really, really bad, and you give him a feast. IT’S NOT FAIR!

Here is Jesus’ point in telling these stories to those who accused him of hanging out with sinners:

You think God hates all sinners and wants them to burn in Hell. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, God loves all God’s creatures and God’s GREATEST joy is when someone wakes up, comes to a moment of self-awareness and begins to get their life and love and spirit in order.

It is interesting to note that in the stories of the sheep and the coin, we read about the invitation to party, but we don’t know if the neighbors came. And in the story of the Lost Boy, the party takes place, but we don’t know if the elder brother came. It is left like that for a reason, because these stories are an invitation to us, and the ending depends on us, How Will we respond, will we go to the party?

They invite us to be kind and loving and accepting of other people, they are a reminder to be diligent in seeking out those who are far from God, they are a call to never give up on those in need.

They ask us to look at ourselves, to examine our hearts and see what inner resentments, abandoned hopes, unmet needs, petty jealousies and long-harbored hatreds are keeping us standing outside the tent of joy, preventing us from showing to others the Love God has shown to us.

And most of all, these stories remind us to never give up when we feel lost in the universe, for God is always out there looking for us, God has the broom out, sweeping every nook and cranny in search of us, God is ready to run to meet us and welcome us home. AMEN AND AMEN

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lent 3, March 11, 2007

MARCH 11, 2007
TEXTS: Isaiah 55:1-9
I Corinthians 10:1-13
Luke 13:1-9

TITLE: “Turning To and Fro with God”

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright was famous for 2 things:
1) His designs were unusual and beautiful.
2) He used flat roofs, and they all leaked.

It is said that he once designed a “state of the art” home for a rich businessman, whose nickname was “Hib.”

One time Hib gave a huge party, a fund-raiser for some good cause or the other. Everybody who was anybody in his city was there; men in tuxedos, women in evening dresses.

There came a torrential downpour, and sure enough, the roof leaked. If fact, it leaked very, very badly. In particular, it leaked very badly directly over the place where Hib was siting at the end of a long banquet table. Hib was angry, after all, he had spent several million dollars on a house with a roof that leaked.

He had the butler bring him the phone, and while sitting at the end of the table, in full view, and hearing, of his guests, he called Frank Lloyd Wright to complain.

“Frank, he yelled into the phone, “The roof is leaking. Frank, it’s leaking all over me. Frank, I’m getting soaked sitting here.”

And Wright replied, loudly, loudly enough to be heard by those sitting close to the phone. “Well, Hib, why don’t you move?”

Very often, we are like Hib; stuck in the midst of a mess, frozen in our misery, complaining about the design of the universe rather than taking action on those things we can do to improve our situation.

In today’s Gospel lesson, several people brought up to Jesus a recent example of horrific violence: “the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.”

This refers to an incident in which Pontius Pilate, the Roman Military Governor, sent troops into the temple to put down what he thought was an anti-Roman demonstration.

In the temple, small animals were sacrificed on stone altars and the blood ran into a drain in the floor. That’s what “blood mingled with sacrifices” means; the blood of those killed by the Romans mixed with the blood of the animals sacrificed and ran down the drain together.

The people asking the question are assuming that behind the activity of the ruthless Gov. Pilate was the judgement and will of God. Their explanation of such horrors was that, somehow, those killed deserved it, that some sin in their life had angered God so much that God had punished them with a painful, sudden and shameful death.

In his answer, Jesus says NO, they weren’t any worse sinners than you. But he gives no further explanation, he doesn’t philosophize or explain or defend God, no more than Frank Lloyd Wright explained why the roof leaked, or defended his design or blamed the builders. Wright told Hib if you’re getting wet, move; and Jesus told his listeners, if you’re afraid of God or dying, change your life,

He says, “Don’t worry about them, worry about yourself. Unless YOU repent, you will all likewise perish.” Jesus turns their attention away from the ways of God with the world, and points them to the ways of God with their very SOULS.

Jesus was quite right in turning the crowd from an abstract discussion of other people’s sin into a focus on their own need for change and repentance.

We all need to hear the very personal call to repent, to change, to move, to turn.. That is the theme of Lent and the theme of our Gospel lesson, turning to and fro with God, turning from fear to faith, from sin to grace, from the world to God.

Almost a hundred years ago, The Times, a newspaper read all over British Empire, invited readers to write in with answers to the question: What is wrong with the world?

They got many long essays blaming God, the Devil, Communists, Fascists, White People, Black People, Asians and Hispanics. They were told it was the fault of the Jews, the Germans, the Italians, the Chinese, and the Americans.

It was women, and men, and the Older generation and These Young People Today. It was criminals and it was the police and it was immoral people and it was Christians and their silly moral values, etc, etc.

Then they got a letter from GK Chesterton. Chesterton was a journalist and writer of short stories and of books about Christianity. When the editors saw the envelope they thought “Great, a free essay from Chesterton. This will be wonderful.”

They were surprised when they opened the letter and found that in answer to the question “what is wrong with the world?’ Chesterton had written,
Dear sirs,
I am,
Yours Sincerely,
GK Chesterton.

Jesus calls us to turn from blaming God, or the World, or others, for what’s happening to us. He invites us to turn to look at ourselves and then to turn and look to God for help and salvation. To repent is to turn, to turn away from one thing is to turn to another.

That’s what we do when we come to worship. We turn into the church from the world. We bring with us all our questions and doubts and fears and also our happiness and joy and thankfulness.

We come into this place, we hear God’s word, we come to the altar to receive God’s grace in the bread and wine, the body and blood of Christ. Then we literally, actually, physically TURN and go back into the world again, carrying God’s love with us.

The word REPENT, means simply “to turn.” Luther said that the life of the Christian was a life of daily repentance, a life of daily turning from the world to God, and then turning back again from God to face the world.

The evidence of our turning is the FRUIT, the acts of love and kindness to others, that our lives produce.

Jesus’ parable of the fig tree is intended to remind us that a life of turning to God will produce fruitful lives of generosity and love - and the reprieve given to the unfruitful tree reveals to us that our God is a god of grace and forbearance and steadfast love, a god of the second chance.

If the tree begins to show fruit, it will live. And the one providing the help is God, the gardener of our souls who heaps upon us the rich and fertile grace necessary to make our lives bloom and grow.

The Lenten call to repentance is a call to turn from the world to God, to come into his presence with singing, to come to God’s table of grace with hearts open to receive the holy food for our souls.

It is also a call to turn from our time with God and to go back into the world spreading that grace and love to others, bearing fruit in the world.

Victor Daily was an Australian poet who suffered a long illness, spent mostly in a Catholic hospital. An a last act before dying, he called in the nuns who had nursed him to thank them for their many kindnesses during his stay with them.

They said, “Don’t thank us. Thank the Grace of God.”

He said, “Excuse me, but aren’t YOU the grace of God?”

Aren’t you the grace of God in someone’s life?

Amen and amen.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Lent 2, March 4, 2007

Note: Friedens Church WELCA (Women of the ELCA) Organization is having "Bold Women Sunday" this week, so this a sermon is part of that observance, hence the Bold woman references. Delmer

The Second Sunday in Lent
March 4, 2007

Texts: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Psalm 27
Philippians 3:17-4:1
Luke 13:31-35

My Grandma Hubbard used to get eggs from the Hodges who lived down the dirt road about a mile. When I was about 5 or 6, Grandma and I would walk down there on a cool summer’s evening. We would sit on the porch and talk and drink lemonade; sometimes I could persuade Mrs. Hodges to play the little pump organ in the living room by agreeing to pump the pedals for her. (Her legs hurt.)

Eventually we would go with Mr. Hodges out past the hen-house to the spring-house, where he kept his eggs (and the family’s milk and butter) in little wire cages submerged in a concrete tank feed by a mountain spring. We put the eggs in little pails padded with dishcloths and walked home for supper, probably bacon and eggs with biscuit, ‘cause grandma wasn’t particular about exactly when she had breakfast. She only put a few in my basket, because I was famous for not ever making it home without breaking all the eggs in my pail.

One day we came out of the spring-house and an awful fuss arose in the chicken yard. There was a raising of dust, and a flurry of feathers and a scattering of hens and chickens, and much screeching and squawking, and then, just as suddenly, things calmed down and an old gray hen emerged with a large black snake in her mouth.

I thought of that day again when I read today’s Gospel lesson. The first thing that leapt out at me was Jesus’ barnyard imagery; Herod, the king, the worldly power portrayed as a fox in the chicken yard, with Messiah, the Christ, portrayed as a Bold Female, risking all to protect her chicks. It’s an interesting play of images.

As our Gospel lesson begins, Jesus is told that he should be afraid, he should watch out, that the evil King Herod is out to get him. Jesus appears to be unafraid, of either Herod or dying. It would be appropriate for Jesus to be scared, but Jesus shows no fear, instead he taunts Herod, saying, come and get me, or better yet, I’ll come to you. No true prophet can die outside Jerusalem.

At the mention of Jerusalem, Jesus’ tone changes. He cries over the people, laments their misguided rejection of God’s messengers of truth and love. And then comes this most startling image: God, Christ, as a Mother Hen protecting her children from the evil fox in their midst.

Jerusalem is Israel and Israel is us, all of us, all of humanity. The truth is that God has loved us, all of us, from the very beginning, from the time of creation, from the time of Noah and the flood, from the time of Abram and Sari and the Promise, from the time of Moses and Miriam and the Exodus, from the time of Deborah and the other judges of Israel and the kings and queens and prophets and psalmists, God has loved the world and sent us signs and wonders and messages of that love.

And all too often, we have failed to understand or respond to that love. All too often, we have turned God’s Word of love into a life of hate, we have turned God’s call to repentance into pointing fingers and a call to arms.

The sly fox of the world has turned us away from that which is good and eternal and has pulled us in the direction of those things which satisfy now but do not linger and live with us for an eternity with God.

If you have ever loved someone you could not protect, then you understand the sadness in Jesus’ voice here. If you’ve ever watched someone waste their life away on drugs or booze or bad relationships or chasing after material possessions or honors or notoriety or celebrity, or something. Something undefined but just around the corner that will, they hope, make them whole and complete and healed, but which is never there; then you know the pain Jesus feels.

For you cannot save them, you cannot make them change, you cannot make anyone give up the things that are ruining them. All you can do is open your arms, you cannot make anyone walk into them. (Repeat) And, it is the most vulnerable posture in the world, arms spread, chest exposed.
Or, to continue Jesus’ Mother Hen imagery, Wings spread, Breast exposed. It is interesting that this turns out to be the way Jesus died in Jerusalem, Wings spread, Breast exposed.

Jesus was able to face down and laugh at Herod the fox because he had faith in the God of Promise, the God who promises and follows through, Jesus had faith in the God who promised Abram and Sarai that they would have a Son and that they would be the parents of a people who filled the earth. Jesus was able to go to the cross because he believed the Psalmists when he said,

The LORD is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?

In the middle of the night, when the fox is loose in the henhouse of our lives, we grow fearful and we wonder: where is God, will God come? And Jesus is the promise that YES! God comes. She boldly comes across the chickenyard - clucking and screeching, Wings spread, Breast Exposed!

She comes, to rescue, protect, save her children. Yes, God comes, that is the promise Jesus made and that is the promise Jesus kept upon the cross, where he sheltered us from the devil’s wrath and saved us from ourselves so that we might live forever in God’s love.

Amen and Amen.