Of Hens and Foxes

This is our theme for this months Messy Church at St. George’s. Remember, Messy Church  is this Wednesday, March 9 and the doors open at 5pm!

Jesus was with his friends on Mount Olivet overlooking the city of Jerusalem when some Pharisees came to him to warn him to leave and go some place else as Herod was looking for him to kill him. Jesus told them to take this message back to ‘that fox’ Herod that his work was not done yet. Looking at Jerusalem he lamented, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Luke 13:34).

It is a rather startling comparison that Jesus uses, comparing himself to a mother chicken. After all a hen is not the usual comparison that one uses for a hero, but in fact it is a great metaphor that Jesus has chosen for himself. A hen, has no defences, no fangs, no claws no mighty muscles. When danger, such as a fox, threatens she has only her love for her chicks and her willingness to die for them. Spreading her wings wide she shelters her chicks under them. She makes herself very visible to the fox in doing so. Her hope is that her sacrifice will be enough and the fox’ belly will be full and he will leave her chicks alone. The hen, her wings spread wide, offering herself as a sacrifice in love to protect her chicks. Jesus, his arms spread wide on the cross, offering himself as a sacrifice in love for us, his children. Jesus is often called the Lion of Judah, or a mighty eagle, but I think the hen may be the most powerful image we can use.

Jesus would walk down from Mount Olivet, and enter the city of Jerusalem on a donkey with the cries of an adoring crowd ringing in his ears. When he failed to lead an uprising against the hated Romans, that same crowd would shout out in anger for his death. The temple leadership would succeed in taking down the young itinerate preacher who had bested them at every turn and threatened to undermine everything that was dear to them, power, unquestioned authority, respect. Herod would succeed in removing someone who threatened the sweet deal he had with Rome, bolstered by power and corruption.

Jesus’ way is not the way of the world. What Jesus offers is not the peace that comes with the power of wealth and power. His is a peace that comes with lovingly reaching out to others and knowing that you stand on the side of God. Jesus’ joy is not the joy of having, but the joy of giving. Jesus’ love is not based on what this means to me, but what I mean to others. It is a radical way of thinking, of being in the world, but it is the true path to peace, to joy, to love.

May you have a blessed Easter.