the one where we care...
February 22, 2016, 9:00 AM

Sermon from February 21, 2016

Text: Luke 13: 31-35

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

I thought something was pretty interesting as I read our gospel text for this morning. Normally when we hear about the Pharisees, they are usually the ones putting Jesus to the test. Trying to stump him in any number of ways. Attempting to get him to ‘incriminate’ himself in blasphemy. Debating with him at every chance they could. For the most part, it always seems like the Pharisees were the constant thorn in Jesus’ side.

So, it is a bit surprising to read this morning that the group that came to protect Jesus are this very same group who has been hassling him throughout his ministry. “Jesus – you gotta go, Herod’s on the warpath and he’s coming for you!” I think most people when asked if the Pharisees ever saw Jesus with compassion they’d probably say, “No – I don’t think so.” Well, now we have the answer to that little nugget of Bible Trivia tucked away in our brains.

It got me thinking – especially since today we are in a very heated political climate that there are many who do not agree with one another. Friends. Co-workers. Family members. Church communities. Everyone has their opinion and everyone thinks they are right and the others are wrong.

I’ve noticed that in the last few years – especially this year – that the rhetoric between those who identify as – well pretty much any political party – speak in such negative ways. Not only about one another, but towards one another. Don’t even get me started on how people within the same group can speak about one another. It’s ugly out there.

Yet, this morning we are confronted with a story between two sides that generally didn’t get along. Jesus and the Pharisees didn’t see eye-to-eye on very many things. In fact, Jesus was involved in a lot of debates with them where he referred to them as hypocrites and the Pharisees thought that he proclaimed blasphemy.

And, yet – even in their dissent of opinions with one another, a group of Pharisees still come to protect Jesus from Herod’s desire to kill him. Not only that – but, Jesus includes all of Jerusalem – the seat of Pharisaic power – as those who he has desired to gather under his wings just as a mother hen gathers her baby chicks.

The two groups didn’t agree on much, but they did have respect for one another. A respect that was deep enough that they cared and had compassion for one another; to the extent that the Pharisees in our gospel this morning urged Jesus to leave to keep him safe and alive. I find that fascinating. And something that we all can learn as we mix and work and play with those in our lives who have opinions different from our own.

It again reminds me – with the recent news of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death – how much of a deep friendship that he had with his fellow Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Where Justice Bader Ginsburg reflected that their dissent with each other’s views helped firm and strengthen their own. Where they developed a friendship over their love of travel and opera.

One of the things that I hear a lot of folks tell me that they try – honestly and with great difficulty – is to be open and welcoming to those who have views different from their own. You know what – it is hard. It’s hard to live into the words that Jesus and the Pharisees model for us this morning and what Jesus calls us towards when he says that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

When you’re a fan of Carolina, sometimes it’s really difficult to ‘love’ those Clemson football fans. I think sometimes it’s even hard for Clemson fans to love Carolina baseball fans. Microsoft fans loving Apple fans. Republicans and Democrats praying for one another. Lutherans and Baptists sharing worship together. Dogs and cats living together! What Jesus proclaims is just sheer madness to the world!

Yet… yet… that is what Jesus models for us. That is what Jesus has shown to us in his ministry – his life, death, and resurrection. That Jesus cries out his desire to gather all of Jerusalem under his wings just as a mother hen does her chicks.

And don’t let that image fool you – hens are tough. Just go watch videos on the internet of people and animals that try to mess with a hen’s eggs. Jesus using this image would be similar during this modern day as if we heard him say – Jerusalem, O Jerusalem how I have desired to wrap you in my arms as a mother bear does her cubs. Because no one messes with momma bear!

Jesus desires to gather us all – those who have turned to him – and those who still resist that love and grace. Jesus desires to gather us all under the wings of the mother hen that is Christ.

That is powerful. That is grace. That is what Jesus desires for us as we live into the kingdom of God.

Imagine what the world would look like if – even in our dissent and disagreement with one another – we showed care and love for and with each other? Where our opposition in conversation and debate helps strengthen our own views – something unheard of during this day and age it seems.

Where even as we may bicker and lament and groan in our disagreement with one another. That we can still look to the one across the aisle and say, and think, and live out – “You are my sister and brother. We are a part of the community of God together. I may not agree with you – but, I love and pray for and with you.”

And in that mutual respect and love lived out for one another – together we can be in ministry with each other to help those in need. To care for those who desperately need help. To listen to the voices of those crying out in the wilderness – to fight against injustice and seek righteousness.

During the season of Lent, we continually strive for ways to dive into deeper faith and relationship with God. Where we strive to live out the faith that God has called us to. Where we re-turn to the one who gathers us all as a mother hen – fiercely protecting us from the sin that exists and calls to us in the world.

That is the world that I want to see lived out. Where we all follow what Christ commands of us in our love and prayer for one another. Where we live, worship, play, forgive, love, and extend grace within the messiness of our lives. The ‘realness’ of our relationships with one another. Where we grow and thrive in our diversity.

Knowing and living into the faith that Jesus gathers us all – just as a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings. Amen.

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