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The High Perch

Luke 13:31-35

The Rev. Jon Roberts

28 February


Good Shepherd Episcopal Church

Venice, FL

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came, and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”


"The Fox and the Hen" Aesop's fable #51, c. 4th BCE, 1887 illustration

“The Hen roosted high on her perch;
Hungry Fox down below, on the search,
Coaxed her hard to descend;
She replied, "Most dear friend!
I feel more secure on my perch."[1]

This is one of Aesop's fables, a children's story from long ago, portraying the picture of a hen perched high in a tree, with a hungry fox below searching for a meal. Again we witness the tempting call of one, and the resistance to temptation by the other. One who calls back, saying, "Most dear friend! I feel more secure on my perch” reminds us we live in a world in which is full of foxes. Foxes, though, get a bad wrap. Some may feel they aren't very lovable because of their cunning, but they are loved no matter hat.

There was another children's story written about this.[2] There are only two characters, and both happen to be foxes. One is the mother, named "Large". The other is her little son, named "Small". They are in their house. Large is on the telephone. Walking nearby her with a disgruntled look, Small was feeling grim and grumpy. "Good grief," said Large, "What is the matter?" "I'm grim and grumpy," said little Small, "and I don't think you love me at all." "Oh, Small," said Large, "grumpy of not, I'll love you no matter what." "If I were a grumpy grizzly bear, would you still love me? Would you still care?" "Of course," said Large. "Bear or not, I'd love you, no matter what." "But if I turned into a squishy bug, would you still love me and give me a hug?" "Of course," said Large. "Bug or not, I'd love you, no matter what." "No matter what?" said Small with a smile. "What if I were a crocodile?" "I'd still hold you close and snug and tight and tuck you up in bed each night." "But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?" "With time together, a smile, and a kiss- love can be mended with things like this." "But what about when you're far away? Does our love go too, or does it stay?"

"Look up at the stars. They're far, far away. But their light reaches us at the end of each day." "It's like that with love-we may be close, we may be far, but our love still surrounds us... wherever we are."

Even a fox can be loved. When they are hungry they can be restless, selfish, wanting nothing more than to satisfy their appetite. Like the fox, we too can turn grumpy and irritable. If it lingers we may even speak malice in our desperation. This is the unfortunate caricature of a fox and ourselves; Always on the prowl and never satisfied. The opposite is the hen, who finds a perch, way up high, on which to look down. It's needs are met. It provides comfort and safety to the brood of chicks who lay under its wing.

In our readings today we get this feeling with the story of Abram. We are like Abraham who once lived down here in the flesh and at times felt desperate. Troubled, he was, over the assumption he would not have an heir. It tormented his appetite, and because he felt he could not have a son, he was very grim and grumpy. He didn't feel he was in God's grace; Nor in His mercy and especially not in His love. God said, "Look toward heaven and number the stars."[3] Even though they're far, far away. Their light reaches you at the end of each day.The ray of light reflecting from the stars, too many too count, as God says, is the love of Jesus that surrounds us if we're near or far; and he finds us and provides for us no matter where we are.

When we feel unlovable, we also cry out like the psalmist who prays for God to deliver him from the hands of his adversary. In our restlessness we may speak malice. We may be quick to anger. These are our adversaries. Therefore the fox must satisfy its appetite another way. Show me your way, O Lord; lead me on a level path, because of my enemies.[4] We roam the earth, not to languish and grow thin with these temptations but rather to cast our eyes upwards to the perch that is above. It is where Jesus is, and where Jesus is, there, heaven can be found.

Lent is the time we confront temptation and prepare for heaven. On the road into Jerusalem, surrounded by foxes, Jesus will ride. He will take the path you and I take. From a place down low to a place high up. With palm branches waving, we will soon hear, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest."[5] My dear friend, do not be defeated by temptation, for if you confess to him in your lowest moment you will discover God will love you, no matter what. Feel secure and take rest in the life of Jesus the Christ, who by his honor and glory alone can provide this. Feel secure on this high perch.

[1] "The Fox and the Hen" Aesop's fable #51, c. 4th BCE
[2] Debbie Gliori, No Matter What, Harcourt Brace & Co., NY, 1999.
[3] Genesis 15:1-12
[4] Ps 27:15
[5] Luke 13:31-35

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