Mother Hen Spirituality Rev Dr Durrell Watkins Lent 2 (2016) Let me reread the gospel lesson for today. Lk 13.31-32: Pharisees came to Jesus to warn him, “You need to go far, far away from here! Herod wants to kill you.” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell that old fox that I don’t have time […]
Mother Hen Spirituality
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
Lent 2 (2016)
Let me reread the gospel lesson for today.
Lk 13.31-32: Pharisees came to Jesus to warn him, “You need to go far, far away from here! Herod wants to kill you.” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell that old fox that I don’t have time to worry about him. Today and tomorrow and the day after that I’m busy ministering to people who suffer in mind and body.”
And now let me add one more verse. We stopped at verse 32, but if we had heard verse 34, we have seen Jesus being nostalgic, thinking of what has been and of what could have been, and what might still be possible. Jesus, as if thinking out loud, says…
Lk 13.34: Jesus said, “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! You kill the prophets. You stone to death the people God sent you. How many times I wanted to help your people. I wanted to gather them together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you did not let me.”
Those first two verses make a bit more sense once we hear that third.
We see Jesus talking tough at first. He hears that Herod, the puppet king, is out to get him. And Jesus tells the messengers, “I don’t have any time to worry about Herod. I’ve got work to do.”
But there are three very important points to make about Jesus’ tough talk.
1st: Even though he compares Herod to a fox, he then compares himself to a hen. A fox in a henhouse is bad news for the hen. To battle a fox, you want a wolf maybe, or an eagle with sharp talons, or a venomous snake. Not a hen! But you can’t defeat violence with violence, hatred with hatred, viciousness with viciousness. Jesus’ power isn’t wolf power or snake power or eagle power…it’s lamb power, it’s infant power, it’s hen power. To understand the power of Jesus, you have to rethink even what real power is…and it isn’t force; it’s wisdom, and hope, and peace, and compassion, and courage, and resilience.
Secondly: Jesus didn’t even use the word rooster for his metaphor. He said “hen”…a mother hen. We think of Jesus as embodying the attributes of God. We see the light of God in Jesus and that is a reminder to us that the light of God is in each of us. We think of Jesus as the son of God as a means of reminding ourselves that we are all children of God. Jesus is our older brother showing us what it means to live into our humanity so fully that we begin to express divinity. And the divinity that Jesus shows today is expressed in feminine language.
Jesus basically says, “Jerusalem, I love you like a mother lovers her children and I want to show you that love in tender, nurturing ways, if you’d just let me.” Jesus expressing the Love that we call God in this story uses the image of a mother to describe that love. Jesus makes God bigger, so that we who are made in God’s image can become bigger as well.
The third point is this: Jesus is speaking to Jerusalem. Jerusalem means “peace.” He offers a peaceful image to the city that is named for peace. “Jerusalem”, he says, “you’re meant to symbolize peace, but you have suffered violence, and you have perpetuated violence. How I wish I could just love you into wholeness, so that you might know and model peace after all.”
Jesus is wishing peace to people who have lost their peace. Jerusalem is where he will suffer and meet his end; but even though they will not show him peace, he still wishes peace for them. That’s mother hen spirituality; and that is hen power.
And so, when people say, “Herod is out to get you,” Mother Hen cannot be deterred. Mother Hen has got to try to heal a few more people, that is, to help a few more people “go to peace instead of to pieces.”
Maybe you and I are Jerusalem, today. We are meant to have peace. We are meant to share peace. We are meant to go to peace instead of to pieces, but we’ve lost our peace, and we have become angry, or afraid, or anxious, or depressed. Maybe Mother Hen is telling us today, “I love you! Take comfort in that. Find peace in that. You are loved, and nothing will ever change that.”
Maybe we can let ourselves feel the warm feathers of the Spirit’s wings wrap around us right now, and maybe we can embrace the power of peace. No matter what is going on in our lives, we can choose to go to peace instead of to pieces.
And how we can embrace that peace? We do what Jesus did when people told him things were likely to get rough for him. “Herod is coming!” And Jesus went to peace instead of to pieces. Jesus tells Herod, “You make your choices, and I’ll make mine. And my choice is to do as much good as I can, and to not waste time being afraid.”
Maybe Herod in our lives is an anemic bank account. We can say, “I will get by somehow. I will not make this challenge worse by giving in to fear. Herod can take a lot, but Herod cannot take my hope, my determination, or my peace of mind.”
Maybe Herod in our lives is a diagnosis. We can say, “I am fully alive in this moment. I love life today. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I am alive right now and no matter what anyone says, this situation might get better, and whether it does or not, I can face it and I can do so with peace. Herod can take a lot, but Herod cannot take my hope, my determination, or my peace of mind.”
Maybe Herod in our lives is a political threat, candidates threatening to control women’s bodies, or make same-gender loving couples second class citizens. We can say, “The political pendulum swings back and forth over time, but my dignity, my sacred value, my sense of agency is not up for a vote! Herod can take a lot, but Herod cannot take my hope, my determination, or my peace of mind.”
The foxes may try to cause trouble, but they cannot trouble those who choose to go to peace instead of to pieces. Mother Hen is always near to hold us, to love us, to comfort us, and we can accept those divine gifts at any time.
Whatever we are facing, today’s gospel remind us that no matter what may happen, in this moment there are blessings to embrace. Let’s not give time or energy to Herod, whatever that might be for us. Let’s instead know that we are loved; the Love that wants to comfort and nurture will never let us go. That’s mother hen spirituality, and it will help us always go to peace instead of to pieces, and this is the good news. Amen.
© Durrell Watkins 2016
Nothing can take my hope.
Nothing can take my determination.
Nothing can take my peace of mind.
I will go to peace instead of to pieces.
And so it is.