The image of God or of Jesus as mother hen is a compelling one. On first glance, it radiates comfort and warmth, security and protection. Check out the videos on YouTube of hens with their chicks and you’ll be moved by the tenderness of the hens and by the fierceness with which they protect their chicks from predators. But Jesus knows something else about hens and their chicks, making the image even more powerful on second glance. Mother hens do not actually round up any wayward chicks – she can only collect them under her wings if they come to her, if they stay close.

Perhaps then the most important line in today’s verse is “and you were not willing,” an unwillingness Jesus perceived in the people’s active rejection of prophets who bore God’s messages of life and love to them. Today, Jesus reiterates his heart’s deepest desire to draw us close, to comfort and preserve us. So, maybe the real questions for our Lenten reflection today should be these: Why are we so often unwilling to seek shelter under those loving wings? What is at stake for us in recognizing and leaning into the truth of our vulnerability and need?

God who loves us like a mother hen, tender and fierce, help us to confront the reasons we are unwilling to lean into your love, why we scatter beyond the reach of your wings. Love us through our resistance and into your promise of life. Amen. 

Pam Shellberg, Board of Directors

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

-Luke 13:34