We are a story, a living story, if we are anything, and this is one reason, maybe the best, why stories will never go out of fashion.
In my own family, much of our time together revolves around stories. We read them every night and often the children read more on their beds, flashlights in hand, before sleep, then waking the next morning to, on the long school run, often listen to more stories.
In the best of these stories, characters are as alive as you or me or the sorry soul walking down the street. We share in their joys, and, of course, more so, their troubles. In the good stories, the ones we can’t help but fall into, we’re never left the same.
Into this now comes Christmas. So, this Christmas season, the Daily Dad will share from The Story.
The Story is a global online reading guide created by Scripture Union Canada, a five-year project that aims to connect our story with God’s story.
I am among the dozens of Canadian writers who have contributed to The Story, which is now in its 80th week of online postings. Through December, for Christmas, I’ll share five of my contributions, some reflections from the books of Matthew and Mark.
Some are among the stories read in my own family at one time or another. Others are not. Each shares a brief story or passage from Scripture, then my reflection, then, at end, a short reader response.
I hope you enjoy.
Today’s selection, here or below, is #2 of 5.
Under your loving wings
37Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Your people have killed the prophets and have stoned the messengers who were sent to you. I have often wanted to gather your people, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you wouldn’t let me.38And now your temple will be deserted.39You won’t see me again until you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
In this brief three-verse passage, Jesus has just had it out with his opponents, the religious obtuse, the scholars of appearance, the powerful men who he knows will have him killed before long.
He has told them the facts, that they’re liars and murderers, and that, in his omniscience and ability to see over the sweep of history, he sees the blood on their hands and will hold them accountable. Everything from their grand temple to their very souls will be lost, and this will be the natural consequences of their own actions.
But even in the anger, there is the regret and broken heart and the vulnerability of a loving parent. This is what Jesus shows when, of all the images he could have chosen to remind his enemies of his power and glory, he chose something along the line of a mother hen.
The interpretation is open enough to suggest that Jesus’ metaphor may have alluded to something much more than a chicken, maybe a larger, more protective bird, possibly even like an eagle. In either case, even any bird spreading her wings over her little ones to keep them from harm is hardly the picture anyone would expect at this moment.
This is Jesus’ love for the unlovable. And this is a message that travels over the centuries: that when we love someone who has turned away, God – with both masculine and feminine traits – knows exactly how we feel.
Likewise, when a child wanders and rejects the truth and when a parent feels the personal responsibility and guilt of the impending consequences, God knows. God knows that freedom, the type of freedom that was first given in Eden, is both the joy and pain of parenting. And in this, he invites us to feel all the closer to him.
Loving Heavenly Father: Your powerful and protective love is the love of both a mother and a father. When I wander astray, or when I grieve for others who are wandering, help me to know that I can find comfort and care by finding the way to your mighty, warm wings.