-Rev Rebecca Ann Yowler-
God will protect you with his pinions; you’ll find refuge under his wings.
His faithfulness is a protective shield.
Psalm 91: 4 CEB
When we think about faithfulness as a fruit of the spirit, we tend to think about our faithfulness to God- our loyalty and our fidelity. Being faithful implies that we are consistent in our worship and that we will return to God again and again rather than seeking solace or protection from other sources. But today’s verse from the Psalms challenges that notion. Today we are reminded that God is faithful to us.
That’s a bit hard to take in, so let me say it again. God is faithful to us.
Psalm 91 is a powerful reminder that faithfulness is a two-way street. Of course, we are called to be faithful to God. We are supposed to be loyal to God- and only God. It’s that whole first commandment thing- you know, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” and such. Our faithfulness to God is an important and vital part of our relationship with the Divine. But, our faithfulness is only part of the equation. In our symbiotic relationship with our creator, God’s faithfulness is vital, and important, and something we tend to forget. God cares for us, loves us, and is loyal to us.
When I lost my grandmother just before Easter in 2013, I was most comforted by the image of a mother hen. In the gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus also compares god to a mother. He says that God is like a mother hen who wants to stretch out her wings over her chicks and protect them. This image, the image of a mother hen with her arms outstretched, this is the image of God that sticks with me most, and in mourning my grandmother, that image resonated. Nancy was most definitely a mother hen—she would either fiercely protect and nurture you, or henpeck you to death until you did exactly as she wanted. This small verse from Psalm 91, recalls that idea as well, “God will cover you in her feathers and under her wings you will find refuge; her faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” God outstretches her motherly wings and protects us, hides us, and keeps us safe. Like a mother hen, God is faithful in her protection. This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have expectations, doesn’t get disappointed, or doesn’t wish we’d behave better. It does mean, however, that even when we screw it up, God is still there. Loving us. Protecting us. Staying faithful to us.
And I’m reminded of my grandmother yet again. Nancy was most definitely a great mother hen—loving and sheltering and guiding and henpecking and prodding. She was loving and tender as long as you listened to her, and if you failed to listen, she’d preach at you until you came around. We often had to remind her that we had already heard one sermon during the week and really didn’t need another, but she often felt obliged to preach at us anyway. She was the great matriarch of our tribe- to the extent that my father even called her “chief.” But even when she was chastising and pushing and prodding and henpecking, she loved us, was fiercely protective of us, and was faithful to us, her children and grandchildren. Missing her reminds me that God’s faithfulness is that kind of faithfulness—it’s the kind that pushes us, prods us, and keeps reminding us that we are God’s and that we are safe beneath her loving wings
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Gracious and loving mothering Hen, thank you for spreading your wings over me in protection and love. Help me to remember that you are faithful to us even in our mistakes and missteps. Push me, prod me, and remind me again and again that you love me and have me safe beneath your wings. Amen.
Rev Rebecca Ann Yowler is an ordained Disciples minister and an academic librarian. She is currently adjunct faculty at Valparaiso University. She is passionate about pugs, knitting, and figure skating. You can read her occasional sermons and devotions at www.beccassermons.livejournal.com