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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

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.

Announcement #5: Upcoming Online Public Dialogue: War in Ukraine

Human Agony, Global Crisis, Moral Principles

Thursday, March 31, 2022

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. EDT

Use this link to: RSVP

The war in Ukraine has brought horrific violence, millions of refugees, and unprecedented threats to global peace. The constant images of death and destruction, families fleeing for their lives, and the courage of leaders and ordinary Ukrainians move us to tears and call us to action. This war also raises serious policy questions and moral choices regarding the obligations, directions, and dangers for the United States and other nations. The Initiative is bringing together key leaders and powerful voices with extraordinary experience and commitment to Ukraine.

This dialogue will welcome the bishop who leads Ukrainian Catholics in the United States, a Cardinal from the Vatican’s justice and peace efforts, a leader working every day to help refugees, an ethicist on war and peace, and a reporter from the Vatican to help us understand this appalling crisis, its escalating human costs, and its ongoing moral choices. Participants:Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J., was appointed interim prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on January 1, 2022 by Pope Francis. He has visited Ukraine and neighboring countries bearing the brunt of the crisis to convey Pope Francis’ personal concern and solidarity. Archbishop Borys Gudziak is the metropolitan archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainian Catholics in the United States, the head of the Department of External Church Relations for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and the president of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. Laurie Johnston is an associate professor of theology and religious studies at Emmanuel College and the executive vice president of the Sant’Egidio Foundation for Peace and Dialogue. Her teaching and scholarship focus on Christian social ethics, particularly questions of war and peacemaking. Gerard O’Connell is the Vatican correspondent for America and author of The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Story of the Conclave That Changed History (2019). He has been covering the Vatican since 1985 and has reported extensively on Pope Francis’ response to the invasion of Ukraine. Tetiana Stawnychy is the president of Caritas Ukraine and the former director of the subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. John Carr, co-director of the Initiative and former director of justice and peace efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, will moderate the conversation. This dialogue will be livestreamed and live-captioned. A link will be sent to all those who have RSVP’d on the morning of the dialogue. by March 30. A good-faith effort will be made to fulfill requests.“So What Did I Miss?”

Participants in the March 28, 2022 Georgetown University dialogue "'So What Did I Miss?' A Look Back, A Look Around, A Look Ahead After Two Years of COVID". From left to right: David Brooks, Christine Emba, Anne Thompson, Kim Daniels, Mirka Sosa, and E.J. Dionne.Last night, the Initiative held its first in-person dialogue in two years and its first hybrid event ever. We were delighted that nearly 300 people joined us in Gaston Hall and more than 1,400 people joined us online. We were also pleased to have C-SPAN cover the conversation. The discussion was thoughtful, provocative, and wide-ranging. A recording of the dialogue will be sent out within the next day or so.

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