Blessed… Under Her Wings

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You who kill the prophets and stone those who were sent to you. How often I wanted to gather your people together, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you didn’t want that.  Look, your house is left to you deserted.  I tell you, you won’t see me until you say, Blessings on the one who comes in the Lord’s name” (Matthew 23:37-39, Common English Bible).

When I read today’s lesson my mind went back to a story I heard several years ago. Many versions of the story have circulated over the years, some even claiming to be a true story. The original version of the story was published in 1945 as a parable. Others have rewritten the story to take place in a forest fire in Yellowstone.

I know the version I first heard is not the original version of the story. Still, I will share it with you as I first heard it. Perhaps this way it will be a new story to you.

When one of the hens hatched her eggs spring was only a few days away. She had great difficulty keeping those new hatchlings close. There were sixteen chicks in total and they were a curious lot, always trying to go off and explore and learn. Such was a dangerous proposition for any chick. If a chick wandered too far from mother hen, they could find themselves as a meal for the cat who lived in the barn.

One day the weather forecast called for a late winter blizzard. Forecasters expected the temperature to drop well below freezing and that it would stay there for two or three days. Most farmers, including the farmer with the little chicks, threw extra hay into the barn and then closed it up tight in an effort to keep all the animals warm.

As expected an early March blizzard blew through the area around the farm. Temperatures dropped along with a great deal of snow. When the farmer made his way back to the barn he expected to find dead chicks everywhere. After all, the poor hen was having great difficulty keeping all of them corraled under her. One small chick alone in a cold barn would never survive.

When the farmer went into the barn he was amazed. There were only two dead chicks. The other surprise was, he found the hen dead. She was exposed to too much cold.

The farmer was wondering where he might find the other chicks. He looked around the barn but didn’t find them. As he looked he picked up the two chicks who had died. Then he made his way to the dead hen. When he picked up her body, he was amazed to find fourteen chicks. She had given up herself so her chicks might survive.

The less tells of Jesus wanting to be like that mother hen. Truly, he is like that mother hen for all of us. Some, like the two chicks who wandered away, are determined to make it on our own. In the end, the mother hen couldn’t save all her chicks. Some of the chicks were determined to go in their own direction. Likewise, some of us are determined to go in a different direction than Jesus is trying to lead others. He cannot save those who refuse to be saved.

Jesus cried over Jerusalem because there, many didn’t want to gather under the safety of his wings. I can’t help but think Jesus weeps today because there are still many who reject the safety and seek to follow their own way.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thanksgiving,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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