The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, "Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." But Abram said, "O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir." But the word of the Lord came to him, "This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir." He brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your descendants be." And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Then he said to him, "I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess." But he said, "O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?" He said to him, "Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon." He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.
When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates."
Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
The GospelLuke 13:31-35
Some Pharisees came and said to Jesus, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you." He 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. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.' Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'"
Jesus in a mood
Before I began writing this sermon, I read it again within the context of the chapter before and the chapter after. It is clear that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and it is also clear that he knows he will die there. He has to be frustrated. Jesus uses the comparison of the hen and its chicks. He says, “I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing.”
Jesus is saying he has offered the people shelter and it has in a large part been rejected. In today's old testament reading God offers Abram a covenant. A covenant protects someone from events which may adversely affect him. Abram accepts God's covenant and wonderful things happen for him and his wife Sari. Even though she had been barren and is in her later years, she bares a child and their descendants become as numerous as the stars in the sky.
Today, Jesus is still offering to gather us and protect us as a hen protects her brood. He is focused on our spirits. He wants to protect our eternal souls from harm. We all know that there will be events that can damage us in a physical sense. Jesus offers us spiritual shelter. The question is are we willing? Is our faith strong enough to allow Him to protect us from harm.
Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying, “Let go and let God.” Sometimes it is hard to let go. At least I know it is for me. Tell me, can you think of a time when you had trouble letting go, maybe a time when you had to give up control and hand it off to someone else or to God? Medical emergencies come to mind at least in my adult life.
Children give up control to their parents all the time. I remember the television show. Father Knows Best. The story line in that show was always the same. Everything would be fine at the beginning of the show then a crisis would come up and usually it would involve one on the children. Dad or mom would swoop in and somehow bring resolution to the problem and it was all done in half an hour. I loved that show. Everything was so neat and tidy and perfect. I wanted to be adopted by that family. My dad was distant. My mom was fighting her own demons. Later I found out Father Knows Best was mostly illusion.
Jesus tells us to return to our childlike nature and to give up authority to a higher power. To let go and let God.