Walls and laws, passwords and police,
To get to you they’d have to get past us—guns and bombs
Civil, human, water rights,
schools, jobs, vaccines, and now chicken wings.
Protection—we want it, we need it. We pay for and we pray for it. Protection.
1The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then | shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
2When evildoers close in against me to devour my flesh,
they, my foes and my enemies, will stumble and fall.
3Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear.
Though war rise up against me, my trust will not be shaken.
5For in the day of trouble God will | give me shelter,
hide me in the hidden places of the sanctuary, and raise me high upon a rock.
6Even now my head is lifted up above my enemies who surround me.
That’s from the psalm assigned for this morning—a plea, a prayer, praise for God’s protection
Protection. It’s what our gospel seems to be offering us morning. It begins with some pharisees who might be trying to protect Jesus, warn him about Herod, that this king is going to try to kill Jesus. Then Jesus, seeming to fit right into our current climate of “straight shooting”, speaking from the heart, telling it like it is—Jesus like Trump calls Herod a name—a fox. Tell that fox, he says, that I’m not done yet. Jesus is not done healing, Jesus is not done teaching. Tell that fox who pretends to be a king who likes to raid, hunt, and attack and kill people like John the Baptist, tell that fox that he, that Jesus is not done proclaiming and bringing in the real kingdom. Herod you’re a fox, Jesus says. And I’m a—a mother hen—a chicken.
Now there’s an image of Jesus we don’t usually get to see. We don’t hear prayers in the church to chicken Jesus. The woman in me, the progressive Christian at your pulpit loves the feminine imagery. However, here’s where, at least to me this whole protection thing starts to fall apart. Even though I live in the city, and only infrequently visit a farm—even I know that a chicken wing is not a good defense, doesn’t offer much protection against the claws, jaws, and sharp teeth of a fox. Of course, we could try to rescue Jesus here by saying that these are two different parts of the story, and Jesus didn’t actually say the fox and chicken thing together. But that’s the way we read it this morning.
So perhaps the Spirit of God wants us to keep the fox and chicken together, because maybe there’s something going on here that’s about more than protection.
Eventhough, that’s what we want—protection from our enemies, from threats all around. But honestly, the greatest harms and threats we face don’t just from invading Romans or other modern day armies. Our threats are closer to home—internal. Whether it’s as individuals or collectively as a country, yes we are greatly threatened from within—from depression, addiction, shame, and anger and fear. The answer may not be protection from, perhaps Jesus shows and gives us another way.
A way that finally allows me to understand my husband. You see Brad and I have had a long standing disagreement—25 year long disagreement—about Thelma & Louise. That’s right the movie staring Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon, and introducing to the big screen Brad Pitt. If you saw it and remember the movie, how does it end? With Thelma & Louise in canyon country out west driving their convertible over cliff. I have hated it, but my husband loves it—that those two women are free, free themselves from patriarchy. And I would insist but they are dead. Why do they have to die to be free? This image of Jesus gathering us under her wings reminded me of one tiny detail—do you remember it? How they go over the cliff? They are holding hands; they are holding one another. For them death is not the worst thing that can happen. They do not need to protect themselves from the other. They do not live or die alone. I still though, don’t like that they drive off the cliff, but they are together.
Jesus also does not run away from suffering, from death. Death is not the worst thing that can happen to us. We are not offered protection from pain and death, but still he is our savior, he saves us. Saves us from our isolation whether its imposed by the powers that be, or salvation from our selves our internal isolations spiritual, or addictions, or physical, political, emotional. Jesus opens his arms to us; we don’t have to hide depression, our anxiety, we don’t have to hide ourselves behind our digital and emotional, our physical walls for protection.
Compassion, passion and mercy and peace,
To get to one they get to all of us—we do not stand alone
Open vulnerability, humility and growth.
loving, healing, being, together in the arms of Jesus. Amen