Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sermon for Year C Lent 2

Gathering the brood

There is a fable about a mouse.
(A country mouse—not a church mouse!)
The mouse watches through a crack in the wall
as the farmer and his wife unwrap a package.
Hmmm.. thinks the mouse.
I hope it is something yummy and delicious.
Mr. Mouse is dreaming of a few spilled crumbs.

But as he watches
his little eyes grow wide with horror.
What the farmer and his wife unwrap,
is not food—
instead, it is a mousetrap.
He is devastated!

He runs out to the farmyard
and exclaims in horror, almost unable to breate—
There’s a mouse trap in the house!

The chicken clucks and scratchs and finally lifts up her head and says,
Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is of grave concern to you,
but it is of no consequence to me.
I just cannot be bothered by it.

The mouse turns to the pig and says,
There’s a mouse trap in the house!

The pig sympathizes but says,
I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse,
But there is really nothing I can do about it but pray.
Be assured—you are in my prayers.

The mouse then turns to the cow and says,
There’s a mouse trap in the house!

The cow says,
Mr. Mouse, I’m sorry for you
but it’s no skin off my nose.

So the mouse, rejected, hurt returns to the house.
His head hangs low.
He will have to face the mousetrap alone.

That very night, a sound is heard throughout the house.
The sound of a mousetrap
catching its prey.

The farmer’s wife rushes in to see what has been caught.
In the darkness, she does not see
that it is a poisonous snake whose tail has been snagged
by the mousetrap.

When she reaches out, trying to find her way in the dark,
the snake bites her on her hand.
The farmer rushes his wife to the hospital.
After two days, she is released and sent home--
still very ill, still running a dangerously high fever.

Everyone knows that you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup,
so the farmer takes his hatchet to the farmyard
to get the main ingredient for the soup.

But his wife still does not get better.
Friends and neighbors come to sit with her around the clock.

In order to feed all these people,
the farmer butchers the pig.

Alas! The farmer’s wife does not get well;
in fact, she dies.

So many people come to her funeral,
the farmer has the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat
to feed everyone after the service.

Mr. Mouse looks upon it all
from his crack in the wall
with great sadness.

Sometimes we are clueless about how deeply interconnected we are.

Herod the fox is out to kill Jesus.
It’s all just fine,
as long as Herod isn’t after us.

Jesus comes to bring a message of good news
but Jerusalem turns her back.
Jesus’ way of following God requires loving others
as much—or more-- as we love ourselves.

Jesus wants to gather us all—every one of us—
under his wings
just as a mother hen gathers her brood of chicks.

Too often we don’t even know
how in need we are of God’s love and protection.

We are often too much like the animals in the farmyard.

Sorry you are hungry.
but I work hard to fill my pantry
and I just don’t think I have enough to share.
Hope you find a job soon.

Sorry you feel so sick and can’t afford to go to the doctor—
oh you don't have health insurance--oh my!
you’ll be in my prayers.

Sorry you are feeling so alone and afraid,
but I’m doing pretty good myself--
and I just don’t have time to talk to you right now.

Pastor Martin Niemoller wrote in 1946
about his experience in Nazi Germany:

First they came for the communists,
and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me—[and other Protestant Christians]
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Today, tomorrow and the next day
we are called by God to find our voice and use our voice
and raise our voice
to speak out for those
who are persecuted, oppressed
and ignored.
For those who have no voice.

There are still demons in our world,
demons that need casting out—
and those demons of greed and hatred
and ignorance and self-centeredness
and apathy.

Jesus stands up to the most powerful ruler in Jerusalem—Herod.
Jesus is not afraid to call a fox a fox.
Or even if he is afraid, he does it anyway.

Jesus does not run away.
He stays because there are people who need him.
Among those needy people
are you and I.

There are people who need us, too.
The word Christian means ‘little Christ”
As much as it might terrify us—
we are called to follow Jesus,
not just in words and theology but in actions.
We are here to be God’s hands and hearts
and voices in this world.
This is our purpose.
…to persevere in resisting evil
…to seek and serve Christ in all persons
…to strive for justice and peace among all people
…to respect the dignity of every human being
This is the covenant we make with God at our baptism.

It is the covenant we have promised to live by. Our promise to God.
Not just for one hour of worship.
But 24/7.
Today, tomorrow and the next day.

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The fable is adapted from one I read in this week's SYNTHESIS.

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