Scriptures: Genesis 15:1-12,17-18, Philippians 3;17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35
Let us pray:
Now, O Lord, calm us into quietness. In this Lenten season, take us to that place within You that heals, listens, and molds our longings and passions, our wounds and wanderings, and transforms us into a more holy human shape. For it is in You that we live and move and have our being. Amen.
“How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34b) In an interesting commentary by Jill Duffield, it was brought to my awareness that the Greek “I desire” is only spoken by Jesus twice in the entire gospel of Luke. Here, where Jesus speaks over Jerusalem and utters these deep words of longing and intimacy, and one other place, which we shall hear of at the Last Supper.
What does it say about the character of Jesus? Again, Jill Duffield notes that it is indicative of how much Jesus wants to gather us close to himself, to hold us, to shelter us, and keep us “as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.” (v.34b)
Several times over the past four class retreats at the coast, Professor MaryKate Morse, our lead mentor for the D.Min. program, referred to us as her chicks. With this passage ringing in my ears this week, I begin to sense the depth of her love for her students, for this doctorate of ministry program in leadership and spirit. Her passion for her work and love of her students became for me an expression, tangibly experienced, of what Jesus must have felt for his people, his city of Jerusalem. But the amazing thing is this: Jesus also extends it to us, spiritual descendants of that self-same people from so long ago.
It is the same amazing love that The Lord tried to explain to Abram when God brought “him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them…So shall your descendants be.” (Gen.15:5) Jill Duffield writes,
“I’m not sure we very often think of God as desiring us, longing for us. We are more likely to see God as judging us or correcting us or punishing us or testing us or condemning us. Or maybe we see God as distant and disinterested. Up there, out there, far away from where we live. But this text shows that, in Jesus, God is close and God is desiring us, as if there is something in the very nature of God that is completed in us, something in God that is fulfilled by being in relationship with us. “
I would be remiss if I did not point out, as commentator Daniel Gefenbaugh does, that this “hen gathering her brood” also echoes much farther back. So far back that if we were but to peak into the Gospel of John for a bit of additional understanding, we could leap all the way back to the second verse of the first chapter of Genesis. The Hebrew word for “hovering” over the face of the deep in the moment before creation is actually brought forth might be better translated “brooded,” as in a hen brooding over her chicks. This insight gains meaning when we review John 1:2-3, where Jesus, the Word of God, was with God in the beginning and through him all things were made. Oh, yes, Jesus knows about brooding.
Some of you may be familiar with Haystack Rock that sits just off shore at Cannon Beach, Oregon. At low tide it is accessible enough to walk right up to. Piled around at its base are many rocks that have fallen over the years and been rounded by the tide. These rocks are like its chicks, and indeed, hold the cradle of life within, between and atop them as tide pools sport an amazing array of marine life.
One artist in Cannon Beach took a look at that rock and its reflection and saw something deeper. In a fanciful drawing, the artist imagined a fisherman’s row boat at high-tide bobbing around near the base of the rock. But where the rock’s reflection should be in the water is instead a city built upon a mountain, extending down, down, deep down into the sea – even as far as the rock rises over it.
The metaphor I’d like to offer you is simply this: each of us is made in the image of God. We are all God’s image-bearers. If we were to take a look at ourselves in a reflective pool, might we imagine the vastness of the starry host as our shadowed reflection? For God is indeed buried deep within each of us, a spark ignited just waiting for its chance to burst into flame and shine God’s warmth into the world for a time.
On this St. Patrick’s day we are reminded of all the saints that have gone before us and blazed a path for us to follow. As we prepare to move through Lent to our Easter morn, what new light will we shine for this community, what reflection of God’s love can we share? For indeed, even as we turn inward during the Lenten journey to examine ourselves, we inevitably will turn back out, bringing with us, hopefully, a richer understanding of God at work in us.
May all glory be unto the One who lived, died, and rose again for us, even Him who is the Christ. Amen? May it be so.
Questions for Reflection
In Luke 13:35, Jesus says, “And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’” To what sort of “seeing” does Jesus refer? Is Jesus calling for more than a verbal declaration that he is the Messiah? How might I live so that I become a testimony that Jesus is truly the one who comes in the name of God?
Household Prayer: Morning
Dear God, I do not know all of the challenges that face me this day, but still I pray: if I should be tempted by desire for earthly gain, remind me of my citizenship in heaven. If I should be distracted by hunger, satisfy me with your Holy Spirit until I hunger no more. Let me walk in the way of Christ so that my life testifies in deed and word, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” Amen.
Household Prayer: Evening
Dear God, great is your mercy to me, even when I have not remembered you. Where I have strayed from your path, forgive my sins and show me the way to salvation. Grant me rest this night that I may rise refreshed in my commitment to the way of my Lord, Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.
 Adapted from a poem by Ted Loder
 Jill Duffiled, “Looking into the Lectionary – 2nd Sunday of Lent,” accessed March 15, 2019. “http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1102135377571&ca=6baa4ca1-4945-4a85-92d7-bdb38fcdea16
 Daniel G. Deffenbaugh, “Theological Perspective, Luke 13:31-35” in Feasting on the Word – Year C, ed. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009). Accordance edition hyper-texted and formatted by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 2.0