744 Be Not Afraid: A Mother Hen God - danger is not optional, but fear is.
Day 744: Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Be Not Afraid: A Mother Hen God
danger is not optional, but fear is.
At that very hour, some Pharisees came and said to Jesus, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”
Jesus said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.’ . . . Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!
Jesus continued: 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 13:31–32, 34
Nadia Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran pastor who published this sermon during the first COVID shutdown in the United States. She describes how Christians might interpret the oft-given scriptural command to “Be not afraid.”
Never once have I stopped being afraid just because someone said that.
I AM afraid. . . .
So maybe our hope for becoming unafraid is found in . . . the part where Jesus calls Herod a fox ...
and then refers to himself as a mother hen.
A mother hen.
Maybe that beautiful image of God could mean something important for us: and by us I mean we fragile, vulnerable human beings who face very real danger. I can’t bear to say that this scripture is a description of what behaviors and attitudes you could imitate if you want to be a good, not-afraid person. But neither can I tell you that the Mother Hen thing means that God will protect you from Herod or that God is going to keep bad things from happening to you.
Because honestly, nothing actually keeps danger from being dangerous.
A mother hen cannot actually keep a determined fox from killing her chicks. So where does that leave us? I mean, if danger is real, and a hen can’t actually keep their chicks out of danger, then what good is this image of God as Mother Hen if faith in her can’t make us safe?
Well, today I started to think that maybe it’s not safety that keeps us from being afraid.
Maybe it’s love.
Which means that a Mother Hen of a God doesn’t keep foxes from being dangerous . . . a Mother Hen of a God keeps foxes from being what determines how we experience the unbelievably beautiful gift of being alive.
God the Mother Hen gathers all of her downy feathered, vulnerable little ones under God’s protective wings so that we know where we belong, because it is there that we find warmth and shelter.
But Faith in God does not bring you safety.
The fox still exists.
Danger still exists.
And by that I mean, danger is not optional, but fear is.
Because maybe the opposite of fear isn’t bravery. Maybe the opposite of fear is love. So in the response to our own Herods, in response to the very real dangers of this world we have an invitation as people of faith: which is to respond by loving.
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