Hen/Hostess

January 19, 2013

Excerpt from Psalm 36:5-10

"How precious is your steadfast love, O God!  All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.  They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights."

Quinn G. Caldwell

The Psalmist invites us to imagine God as a mother bird (those who insist on the maleness of God, take note!) spreading her wings over a nest filled to the brim with everybody in the world.  The writer then goes on to mix the metaphor: God becomes the great high hostess, providing abundant food and delightful drink to the world, gathered in her house.

But actually, the Psalmist doesn't say that the whole world is there, just that the whole world could be there.  Not that all people do take refuge in the shadow of God's wings; just that they may.  Not that everybody loves going over to God's for dinner; just that they're invited.

Before that happens, before everybody in the world shows up in this way, somebody needs to tell them some stuff.  Somebody needs to tell them that God is a mother hen calling her chicks home to safety, not a sharp-eyed hawk waiting to devour anybody who strays too far away.  Somebody needs to tell them that God is a hostess who just loves a houseful of guests, not a gatekeeper trying to keep everybody out.  Before the whole world can show up in God's nest or God's dining room, somebody's going to need to tell them the truth.

Prayer

God, continue to reveal yourself to me in new and surprising ways.  And when you finally get me to understand, then grant me the boldness, the loudness, and the grace to tell the whole wide world and bring them home.  Amen.

About the Author
Quinn G. Caldwell is Pastor and Teacher at Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC, in Syracuse, New York, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ, published by The Pilgrim Press.

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