"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
We got a dozen chickens last summer. We kept them close to our little country house in a small chicken coop that had seen better days until we redid it with a nice enclosed run and everything Martha Stewart would imagine would be good in a proper chicken coop.
The first night, we noticed a peeping noise, then another peeping noise, then a third peeping noise. Doesn't that sound like the chickens who used to live down here near the house in that small badly appointed chicken coop?
The chickens had moved out of the Ritz and back to the cold under our back steps. They had refused to be gathered in the high rent district, in the safe district, in the sure and certain hope of everlasting life by the grace of God. They had escaped and come all the way back to their old place, peeping and purring.
Jerusalem came to mind, the place where Jesus wanted to befriend us and failed to do so. Advent reminds us of how many times we have been unwilling to be at home in a nice place. Wouldn't it be a great Christmas, a truly herald angels singing Christmas, if we could learn to be at home in Jerusalem, to be gathered into a nice place by a God who only wants the best for us?
The Christmas story is a quiet subversion of the need for purring and peeping security, guaranteed to make us the victims of varmints. It is also a nudge to get back into the hope that Jerusalem can be our city, that it can be beautiful, that it can be safe, that we can be comfortable there. Sometimes animals show us the way to the city, strange as that may sound.
Gather us, O God, into an awareness of how much Jerusalem you are offering, all the time. Amen.