We got chickens for our backyard this year. I’ve learned that hens can be stubborn, fierce, and protective. We don’t have a rooster, though, so I haven’t gotten to experience our hens with a brood gathered under their wings.
The chicken coop in our parsonage’s backyard is in the shadow of our elegant and imposing church building. The neo-Gothic sanctuary was built in the heady years after World War II, when world peace seemed possible because so many had experienced the destruction of war. There was new enthusiasm for interfaith and ecumenical cooperation, and hopeful optimism about new technologies. It was in those years that my congregation constructed this worship space to welcome all who are willing to gather under Jesus’ protection.
Behind the altar is a beautiful window in an unusual style of stained glass: The jewel tones of the glass in daylight transform into a gilded reredos when night falls, persistently depicting the glorious stories of Jesus’ life through the rhythms of each day. There are no chickens in the sanctuary decorations even though Jesus depicted himself as a hen. Perhaps the image is just too unsophisticated, or perhaps it is because the brood was not willing to gather.
In a church where we are more comfortable with elegant depictions of the glory of God, I find it refreshing that Jesus compares himself to a hen. It is a reminder that God is present not only in the carefully wrought and beautifully curated sacred spaces but also in life that sometimes squawks and scratches at the ground. Whichever feels more accessible to you, I pray that you will always find God’s fierce, glorious love present there.
Holy Jesus, may we accept the offer of your love for us and the world. Amen.
This week’s readings give witness to God’s ways and provide confidence and hope in our faith. In Genesis we read of God’s promise to Abram, a promise that seems very unlikely to a man with no children. But God seals the covenant, and the story later shows that God never breaks God’s promises. The psalmist, even while mired in conflict, praises God for being his light, his salvation, his stronghold. The psalmist longs to be in God’s presence forever, a desire that can inspire all of us as believers. Paul says that in the future reality, we will no longer experience resistance from those who oppose God. One day Christ will fully transform us to our citizenship in heaven. Jesus himself experienced resistance even in Jerusalem, yet he ultimately triumphed, as will all those who trust in God.
Read Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18. How can you take a step forward in the dark toward God’s seemingly impossible promises for the future?
Read Psalm 27. Recall a time when you waited in the shadows of your life. What did you learn about God’s provision during this time?
Read Philippians 3:17–4:1. How do you live in the paradox of standing firm in faith by being vulnerable?
Read Luke 13:31-35. When have you been unwilling to accept love? How can you comprehend the depth and yearning of God’s love for you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.