Summary: The Fourth Sermon of Lent 2008 and Communion Meditation for March 2, 2008
(Slide 1) (Dramatic reading from Living Lent; the animals tell the story, the hen reveals a grieving savior’ by Creative Communications for the Parish © 2008)
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. And now look, your house is left to you, empty and desolate. For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, ‘Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
(Slide 2) It has been interesting to have a female cat in the house because there have been moments, when either real or playing, one of the boys has cried and Hanna (yes that is her name, Hanna) has come running to check them out.
She gets in their face and sniffs and by her actions you can tell she is seeing if she can do something to comfort them. Once when they were wrestling and faking pain, she came running and began to lick their hair!
I cannot help but believe that it is her material instinct that causes her to do this. She has it in her to care and comfort.
Now, as I think about a recent experience in which I observed this reflex take place, I think about my response to the situation in which real tears were being shed.
I basically looked for blood and then when I saw none, I made some conclusions, after asking some questions of the hurt party, that in addition to have ‘it’ hurt there was also a very weary and tired soul at that moment within the injured body. But Hanna kept circling around to see if something could be done.
The Bible speaks of us as sheep. Isaiah 53:6 says, ‘All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.’
Then in the next verse, verse 7, Isaiah speaks of Jesus as a sheep, ‘He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.’
In Matthew 25, Jesus uses the image and analogy of sheep, in His comments of God’s final judgment when ‘He [God the Father] will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.’
But in our text for this morning, humanity is viewed as helpless chicks running the wrong direction from their mother as Professor Junglefuss reminded us this morning in the opening dialogue.
What has struck me this week as I prepared this sermon was that we hear God’s voice crying out in pain and grief. ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… how often I have wanted to gather your children together as hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.’
This is the voice of God, crying. It comes from the body of a human being, but it is the heart of God crying out for those who are going the wrong direction.
It also struck me that this is also not only where God identifies with us but also where, if I can be permitted to say so, we identify with God. I know that there are those of here this morning who cry out for our children to come to God because they are going the wrong way and we are powerless to stop them from doing so! But God is also powerless to stop us from running away from Him! Remember the story of the prodigal son.
This is personal with Jesus. This comes on the heels of his warning to the self-righteous people who think they are following God. This, public, I believe, grief comes after His angry outburst in the temple because it had been cheapened to a place of commerce rather than prayer.
Just as there are periods of time, due to events, that cause our emotions to be all over the place, it is so here in Jesus’ final days and hours when His emotions were all over the map.
I believe that He was joyful when He entered Jerusalem to great acclaim. He was angry when He entered the Temple, and as He knew what was coming, He grew angry because it reminded Him of how bad the spiritual condition of humanity had become.
Now, He was grieving because that condition was caused by humanity’s disobedience and lack of faith in Him and the Father. Soon, He will wrestle with a deeper agony in the Garden.
This is the voice of God crying out for you and me! This is the voice of our savior, our lover, our sacrifice for the sin and pain we have cause in life.