Reflections from The Hill – Why a Chook? – Luke 13.31-35
Our Bishop, with a party of twenty-something others, are currently hooning around Jerusalem and its environs taking in the sights, tasting the food and soaking up the culture of that most ancient locality. OK, maybe not hooning.
I don’t suppose that this, or any other, party of pilgrims will be found doing what The Bloke did in his day – and by that I don’t mean perform miracles or walk on water.
When we meet The Bloke in today’s Gospel Reading, he’s in the middle of speaking a Lament – one of two in Luke – over the
. A Lament is a prayer for help that comes out of the pain of what’s happened/ing. Holy City
What’s happening there is obvious: first, there’s the underlying pain that The Bloke is going to be killed in
and the Pharisees (yes, some were among his buddies) have come to warn him that The Old Fox is scheming for his demise. Jerusalem
Then there’s the pain The Bloke is carrying about
itself. The Bloke speaks out of his pain over a Jerusalem that has rejected his offer of comfort and protection. Holy City
Pain and suffering are universal. Each of us can recall many of our own painful experiences, even as we read these words. The question is, though: what do we do with the pain and those recollections?
provides a clue. What did The Bloke do? Well, first he found a chook, a kind of heavenly visual aid. Reading
Why a chook? Of all the animals written about in The Good Book, he had to pick a chook. With no other reference to hens anywhere else in the whole Bible, I find this both amazing and quite interesting.
He could have picked any of the 138 animals listed there – a lion, a bear or even an ape would do – but, without any precedence, he chose the chook; a choice hardly selected to inspire confidence, unless you’re a chicken, of course.
Yet we can see where The Bloke’s coming from. His choice is pretty typical: turning expectations on their ear by giving out the prizes to losers, children and peasant and relegating scholars and rulers to the bottom of the pile. So much for my Grad. Dip.
Naturally, he chooses the chook. He will always choose the chook, about as far removed from foxes as you can get. Would he have done different? Nah.
As always, he gives us options: we can spend our time going around looking for chickens to eat or we can lose our life protecting them. That’s the options.
One thing’s for sure, as theologian Barbara Brown Taylor reminded me in an article she wrote for The Christian Century, The Bloke won’t be The Top Fox in this or any other story. (She used different, theologian words, naturally.)
He’s going to be Mother Hen, putting his Body on the line between his brood and the assailant(s) who have schemed to inflict harm and to bring lots of collateral damage with them.
She got no fangs, no claws to speak of, no Stallone biceps. All she got is a heart and a body that’ll shield her littlies: if The Fox wants them, he’ll have to take her first which, of course, is what he did.
While everyone was asleep, he crept in. She wakes, cries out. The chickens scatter and she dies – wings spread-eagled, breast exposed, defiant, victorious.
There’s not a mother alive who wouldn’t do the same, be it chook, dog or human. Yet it can be a tragic tale if it wasn’t for the idea of hope. Without that, we have nothing and it’s there that Laments come into their own.
The Lament is a powerful tool for restoration and renewal. It’s a matter of banging away at this for our proclamation of the Resurrection doesn’t obliterate the reality of the Crucifixion or the Burial.
We don’t take the figure of Christ off the Cross, or hide it behind a banner or in a cupboard, as some have done. We daren’t jump too quickly to resurrection, skipping over the Lament.
Perhaps we are discovering a different aspect to Lent, one that addresses both national and personal trauma through the practice of Lamentation, a prayer that comes out of pain and brings healing with it. Now, that’s hope.