He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing
Last year I spoke about ‘Feisty Birds’ on Mothering Sunday, and I said we often take some of these feminine images to be very gentle and a bit twee.
I remember when I was courting Allana coming face to face with a swan, it saw us as a threat and was angry we were on its territory, we had to back away pretty carefully.
Swans and Wild Geese are ferocious! You don’t mess with them, especially when they have young. -Its not a tame picture as we often think.
The image of the ‘Wild Goose’ in the Celtic tradition is often viewed as a picture of the Holy Spirit…Something at the heart of nature protects, shields with self sacrificing bravery for those we love.
I love CS Lewis portrayal of Jesus as the lion, Aslan… A great quote “safe, of course he’s not safe, but he is good”.
I then began to explore the way we define what are male and female character traits and suggested that actually nature itself shows that women can be warriors, full of courage and bravery and yet these roles within the Church we don’t consider feminine… Perhaps we need to discover afresh the heroines of scripture such as Deborah or Rehab?
It also debunks the myth of nurturing and compassion as ‘weak or feminine’ -you wouldn’t call a protective swan weak would you!!
We often don’t celebrate the brave and courageous side of faith, we forget that heroes such as Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandella and Martin Luther King Junior are some of the bravest (but non violent) people we have seen in recent history…
We often make Jesus out to be a bit soppy ‘gentle Jesus meek and mild’ but forget that he probably avoided a stoning probably most days of his preaching ministry, was nearly murdered after his first sermon and drove tax collectors and traders from the temple single handedly…
Our Churches and our world desperately need to encounter afresh Jesus from the Gospels rather than this weird distort of him which often exists within the mind of our society.
But before we end up going crazy and tell everyone to eat raw steaks and growl at everyone, it is worth re-claming that beautiful and nurturing side of this image (and just think how massively counter cultural this was for a rabbi to align himself with feminine imagery!).
Jesus was the very embodiment of compassion, showing humility in washing feet and being crucified, definitely offering no defense when questioned… showing emotion when crying over the city of Jerusalem…
You see I think as guys we need to reclaim compassion, kindness, gentleness as not signs of weakness but signs of simply being human, just as bravery and courage aren’t male traits but again traits of being human).
Perhaps we should nail our views of gender roles to the cross of Christ and let our understanding of what it means to be human to be found in Christ and not in social expectations and history…
What shapes our identity? So much of it is a culture which doesn’t really understand itself, let us be shaped not by other peoples expectations or silly inherited stereotypes but in being like the only human being ever to have a handle on humanity, Christ himself.
So let us not let the world squeeze us into its mold, but throw of all that hinders and entangles so that we might run the race set before us… being Alien Ambassadors, that leave the world scratching their heads at our strange existence, but in living this different way others may see Christ in us.