28 February 2010

Luke 13: 31-35

It’s not often that such depth of emotion and being pulled in different directions
are crammed into such a short passage.
 
A confrontation between different ways of exercising power
(in fact totally different ways of understanding what power is);
Jesus identifying himself with centuries of prophets
an expression of the image of God that is counter to the more traditional “Father” view
an offering of open love and care
and a heartfelt lament expressing the pain of when love is rejected
 
All of that in 5 sentences and 100 words.  That’s pretty intense writing!
 
In fact there is so much in it, that we are not even going to attempt to cover it all today.
 
But out of all the things that we can look at in this passage
I invite us to think about three aspects
and then to listen and to feel
which of them is most significant for us today
  
Firstly –  how we think of power.
Jesus is pretty forthright in his contrast between his expression of power
            which is demonatrated in freeing people and nurturing people
and the expression of power that Herod is threatening:
             bullying, controlling and ultimately killing
Fox like or hen like?
Pushing and determining the way that someone’s life should be lived for our sake
or offering and embracing so that our life may be lived for someone else’s
 
It’s never that clear is it.   But there is an undercurrent;  an approach
Is today’s issue for you the way you think of – or act with – power and influence
  
Or maybe, the area for us today
is how we are open to receiving the care that is offered by others.
Are we the chicks who are being offered nurture, but we wont let it happen?
Sometimes for many of us the hardest thing to do
is to receive care and nurture from others
We can think of it as interfering, or assuming something less of us
Maybe it’s a matter of pride for us.
Maybe it is threatening for us to allow someone to go beyond the solid surface.
  
Or is today a day of lamentation?
In a real sense, Lent and lament go together
Lent is a time to be in touch with the reality of life, including its pain.
 
And one of the more profoundly moving expressions of pain
that we see in the life of Jesus is the pain when care and love is rejected.
Jesus is taking really seriously why he believes he is living
We stopped briefly last week when contemplating the temptations,
to think about our identity – who are we and why are we here
And in today’s passage, Jesus weeps at the idea
that who he believes he truly is, and what he is called to be
is being hindered by the very people he is here to love and gather.
 
Suzanne Guthrie –  a meditative writer, puts it like this
If you have ever loved someone you could not protect,

then you understand the depth of Jesus’ lament.
All you can do is open your arms.
You cannot make anyone walk into them.
Meanwhile, this is the most vulnerable posture in the world —
wings spread, breast exposed —
but if you mean what you say, then this is how you stand. …
 
Now that may be how you stand when offering that love
but the reality is that it hurts when it is not received.
And I don’t think I have met someone yet
who has not experienced that hurt
So for you today may be the day to acknowledge that hurt
and to see how it is that it will not hold you back
 
“Jerusalemn, Jerusalem
How I long to gather you as a mother hen gathers its chicks
But you would not let me” …

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