Beginning preparations for Holy Week today, I thought of Jesus’ words as he approached the city of Jerusalem to live through those world-changing moments, ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing’.
It has always been a wonderful picture for me; taking me to my childhood days and my grandmother’s hens in the farmyard.
Summer days were best for hens. The days were long and they could spend hours and hours outside without fear of a fox. They were protected by the constant presence of people in the farmyard, hurrying to bring in the hay and to store the harvest.
Inside the back door of the farmhouse there stood a shotgun, its double barrels polished to a dull gleam, its stock shiny wood.
The hens were safe as they scratched around the yard. There were rich pickings; an abundance of insects, and, at harvest time, grains of corn that fell to the ground.
If the hens were well protected, their chicks were even more so. At the first approach of a tractor, or, even worse, a curious small boy, the hen would start clucking loudly and her chicks would run, chirping, to shelter under her wings.
The picture of the hen gathering her chicks is a picture of absolute security. It’s a picture of care and protection. It’s a picture, which says to me, that all is well with the world.
This is how Jesus felt about his people, and, as we did in those days in Jerusalem, we still turn away.