Gathered where we belong – a reflection for Lent 2 13 March 2022

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’  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! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Luke 13: 31- end

luke-13-34-under-his-wings-mosaic

You may have watched a chicken trying to gather chicks – and as fast as she gathers some will peep out, and some will escape. She just wants to keep them warm and safe from danger. If you haven’t watched a chicken, you may have had the experience of gathering a toddler in your arms – wriggling, struggling, squirming as they just long to get down and run about in the world.

This week there have been more harrowing images from Ukraine, many of them with parents gathering children to themselves, trying to keep them safe in basements or at train stations or borders. Or there are parents, grandparents and relatives who long to gather children from whom they are now separated.

I have been in Ukraine – I was there for about 5 weeks nearly 30 years ago. The children and teens and leaders I met there are now parents, grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles themselves, longing to gather their children, longing to keep them safe. I have so many memories from that time – but one thing stands out for me. The Christians I met were passionate, courageous, faithful – and above all prayers. They could pray for hours – and not just two or three of them! They gathered everything they cared about, everything and everyone God cares about, under the wings of prayer. Images of such gatherings happening right now sit alongside the horror.

Being gathered is about who we belong to and how we know security, so Jesus words of longing to gather people speak deeply to our needs. In the reading from Philippians 3 for today Paul reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven. Our identity is in Christ who longs to gather us and hold us for eternity. This is an identity that says whatever is happening, I am gathered and held. Today we join our prayers with families in Ukraine and throughout the world, gathering all whom God loves into his care. And in this Lent season, may we also take time to come close ourselves to that love.

Revd. Canon Dr Sandra Millar

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