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
I wonder what would happen if we introduced the idea of Lenten-style self-reflection and examination into the mix of our already tiresome Presidential election season.
Most of the people who seem to want to be our next President are eager to tell us about the importance of their Christian faith in the formation their platforms, views, and plans as prospective leaders. And we can hardly help but notice that many of these folks are jockeying to see who can sound the toughest - even the meanest - as they peddle their wares to the people whom they hope will vote for them.
This is jarring, to say the least. How many of these prospective leaders would embrace the image of "a mother hen gathering her brood under her wings"? More importantly, how many of us would embrace this image as a way of living in a world where compassion was the watchword? When someone stands up and asks us to let them be a leader, we tend not to want a mother hen; we'll go with a razor-clawed eagle, or maybe even a panther. Some fierce, steadfast being that will smite our enemies into submission.
What is with this yawning chasm between our professed or practiced faith and the profoundly humble and gentle faith of this man Jesus, whom we call our savior? What kind of fear and rage causes us to take this tragic detour?
We can hear the anguish in Jesus' voice; we can almost see the tears streaming down his face. "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it..." Such a profound lament this is. And well we might replace the name Jerusalem with any number of cities today: Washington; Riyadh; Tehran; Moscow; Beijing; Caracas; Nairobi; Cairo. And on and on...
But the Holy City of Jerusalem stands in for all such places. This ancient city; the spiritual home of the three great Abrahamic faiths; the city that stirs our hopeful hearts, and then breaks them with its own brokenness. For it is in this place, and many others as well, where we see the heartbreak of an offer of peace that we continue to refuse to embrace.
"How often have I desired to..." Let us complete this sentence ourselves. The Season of Lent is the time to practice this holy work of imagining the peace that we both yearn for and flee from. A time to challenge the fear and bitterness that infect not just our political leaders, but us ourselves.
"How often have I desired to..." There are so very many wondrous ways to complete this sentence. Let's imaginethem, and work in holy love to make them happen. This, and only this, will dry the tears on God's face.