The following sermon was preached by Francisco Herrera, with interpretive dancer, Kristin Klade, LSTC students, in Augustana Chapel at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago on Thursday, February 28, 2013.
You tell that fox, (a ‘fox’, he calls Herod) because when you're a mother hen trying to gather in and protect your beloved chicks, a fox is exactly the kind of enemy you hate and fear the most - a swift, cunning, and deadly foe, ever-poised with evil patience, waiting to pounce upon and grind to bloody bits the innocent bones of even the youngest victim.
And Jesus knew that Herod could do it, for he well knew from his youth how another Herod massacred countless little boys in a desperate and depraved attempt to make the Jesus' own birth a still birth.
And in seminary, we speak often of today's Herod - the tyrants, the greedy, the hypocrites, those who - as Jesus would say - are white-washed houses of bones and filth, who say 'peace, peace' while waging total war on the weak and the powerless - and how eager we are, some of us chomping at the bit, to leap from the walls of this school and into the fray to proclaim, as Jesus did, release to the captive, and liberation to the oppressed.
But when Jesus actually speaks from the heart, it isn't bold proclamation that emerges, but passionate sorrow - not a blistering rebuke of the Herods of the world, but a wrenching lament for Jerusalem itself, Jerusalem the city and its people - and how THEY stone the prophets and kill those who are sent to it, and how despite God's many efforts to make it truly Yirushalaim - the city of peace - its people prove time and time again WE prove time and time again that we are not, in truth, little chicks needing our mother's protection - but hungry foxes, willing to devour our brothers and sisters, and maybe even our own mother if our hunger demands it.
and Jesus knows this, but thank goodness, loves us anyway. Jesus understood this painful irony better than anyone, and in his crucifixion, God finally gathers us - all of us - under God's wings.
For on the cross Jesus makes his heart a harbor for us - comforting us in our pain, our fears, sheltering our fragile souls through desires and disasters - healing us from all the things and that make US tyrants, that make us think we need to feed on the weak.
And in the harbor of his heart, we see that we are not animals, not predators, indeed - we see what we truly are - helpless little chicks, innocent, weak, scared, and in need of love and protection. So his loving shelter, gathered into this harbor, we can grow beautiful, and strong, and loved - so that the we too may then turn and be beacon of holy fire, shining the way to that harbor that is Jesus the Christ - Jesus, the prince of peace, standing and shining from the heights of Zion, gathering us in, welcoming us home.