Tag Archives: Matthew 23:37

Comforting

I’m sure we all like to feel comfortable, safe, protected.  Often life feels anything but…

Isaiah 66:10-14

10 If you love Jerusalem,
    celebrate and shout!
If you were in sorrow
because of the city,
    you can now be glad.
11 She will nurse and comfort you,
just like your own mother,
    until you are satisfied.
You will fully enjoy
    her wonderful glory.

12 The Lord has promised:
    “I will flood Jerusalem
with the wealth of nations
    and make the city prosper.
Zion will nurse you at her breast,
carry you in her arms,
    and hold you in her lap.
13 I will comfort you there
like a mother
    comforting her child.”

14 When you see this happen,
    you will celebrate;
your strength will return
    faster than grass can sprout.
Then everyone will know
that the Lord is present
    with his servants,
but he is angry
    with his enemies.

This passage seems hard to work out in the current political situation in Jerusalem and Israel, but what it does point us to is the loving arms of God – reaching out to comfort his people. A parent gently holding their child, nursing and carrying.  A promise, a hope, however things seem where we are today.   It is in a similar vein to

Matthew 23:37Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Your people have killed the prophets and have stoned the messengers who were sent to you. I have often wanted to gather your people, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you wouldn’t let me.

Words also spoken to Jerusalem.

God longs to reach out and comfort.  Will we let him?  Will we let him have his way that comfort may come to all his people?

Thank you Lord,
that you long to bring hope and comfort.

Forgive me the things I do to fight against it,
the things I put in the way,
my actions that stop your comfort reaching others.

Lord,
may your kingdom,
your glory,
your comfort
and your peace
come

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Yes, But…

As I was writing yesterday about God keeping all safe, I was thinking,

Yes, but

what about those whose safety is compromised by the actions of others.  God may keep us safe, but sometimes others crash those walls down.  What about that.

Sometimes it seems so easy to say, “Don’t worry, God will look after you”, so trite and simplistic.  Yet in truth, God is always there trying to wrap his arms around everyone.  But some people won’t be held, and in their rebellion, their escaping, they cause harm to others.

So that was why it was timely to be reminded by Stephen Cottrell that most of the paintings in this series were painted during the first few years of the Second World War (p83).  So Spencer was not painting in a Utopian vacuum.  He was fully aware of the atrocities life can throw up.  He had known for himself The Wilderness.

Yet this picture is painted later, in 1954.  It could be seen as a “there, there”, as a parent puts its arms around a child after it has been hurt.  Letting it know that they are there and it’s ok.

US_Navy_100116-N-2953W-385_A_Haitian_mother_comforts_her_child_at_the_Killick_Haitian_Coast_Guard_Base_clinic_as_a_member_of_the_U.N._security_team_stands_watch

Spencer has been through the war, been through his personal wilderness, and his response is this painting.  Highlighting God’s care, love and shelter.

Indeed Jesus himself says these words,

Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Your people have killed the prophets and have stoned the messengers who were sent to you. I have often wanted to gather your people, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you wouldn’t let me. (Matthew 23:37)

knowing full well what is to come, what is about to happen to him.  God’s love and care are not outside of pain or unaware of its existence.  It comes from right within all that life can throw – hatred, mistreatment, rejection… Jesus knew it all and knew God’s care and support.

To me, that is the true value of all Jesus has to say.  He is not pontificating from on high, but has been involved in the real mess of the world, and his word comes from that experience and knowledge.  Jesus’ words are not empty platitudes, but comfort born out of shared experience.

And that makes all the difference.

 

These thoughts are reflecting on Stanley Spencer’s painting The Hen (seen here).

This year for Lent, I am reading Christ in the Wilderness by Bishop Stephen Cottrell, published by SPCK, reflecting on Stanley Spencer’s paintings of that title.

I’m not necessarily going to blog every day on it, just when something leaps out at me – and they will be thoughts rather than full blog posts

The Hen

Immediately I saw this one of Stanley Spencer’s paintings, I thought of these words of Jesus:

37 Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Your people have killed the prophets and have stoned the messengers who were sent to you. I have often wanted to gather your people, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you wouldn’t let me. (Matthew 23:37)

Jesus longs to gather the people as a hen gathers her chicks, and they won’t let him.

Here we have Jesus gathering the hen itself.

It looks as though with his body he has built a wall around them – a defence, a shelter, a safe place.  A couple of the chicks are happily exploring, safe in his protection.  One is trying out its wings, seeing if it can fly.  Such is the protection Jesus gives us.  It is not suffocating and stifling – but it would keep one of those foxes away!

There are other hens wandering the wilderness, but this one has chosen to stay within Jesus’ surrounding arms.

mother hen

I’ll go on to see what Stephen Cottrell has to say.

These thoughts are reflecting on Stanley Spencer’s painting The Hen (seen here).

This year for Lent, I am reading Christ in the Wilderness by Bishop Stephen Cottrell, published by SPCK, reflecting on Stanley Spencer’s paintings of that title.

I’m not necessarily going to blog every day on it, just when something leaps out at me – and they will be thoughts rather than full blog posts