So if the wilderness doesn’t get you, perhaps that fox in the city will. In the reading from Luke today Jesus compares Herod to a fox and the people of Jerusalem as a hen’s brood – Jesus of course is the would be mother hen, protecting the people, but they reject him! I’ve been slowly preparing a hen coop in the vicarage garden, the fence was already there, the cŵt came from a friend who was downsizing his operation. I’ve yet to make the gate and install the electric fence. It seems a lot of effort to protect a few chickens from a fox, who, to be honest is just doing what comes naturally. Taking the easy prey. Our desires for fresh garden eggs mean the fox’s lunch may be chicken in a basket. Though we hope not! Jesus compares Herod to the fox and the people are at the mercy of the one who preys on the weak and the vulnerable. So Jesus overcame the wilderness and now he turns his attention to the city. So soon into lent? To be looking towards the city and the cry of our Sanctus and the Palm Sunday processions ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord – Hosannah’ No wonder Jesus weeps over the city. At the mercy of the Fox and his government the people are unwilling to stand against the flow and be the nation that Abram was promised. History repeating itself, but of course, as usual, a few key verses are left out of that Genesis reading this morning, verses which mention the slavery of the people in a foreign land. Nothing much has changed, they are now slaves to the Roman rulers – they just don’t see it. Jesus offers them freedom, but they reject him and I also hesitate to say this but, the slavery continues now as then. Will we ever learn to, in the biblical language, ‘return to the land’.
There are many a tangent one could be tempted to veer off into at that point. However, I’ll stay with the city and reflect for a moment with Emma and Dexter, characters in my choice of film this Lent to help us through the wilderness. One Day. In the city of blinding lights Bono sings “The more you see the less you know The less you find out as you go I knew much more then than I do now” It ends: The city of blinding lights The more you know, the less you feel Some pray for what others steal Blessing’s not just for the ones who kneel, luckily. Though not a song from the film, (the timeline doesn’t fit its inclusion) it is a fitting representation of the disappointment found by Emma and Dexter in the city. Each in their own way the Fox of the city devours them. They each could do with a blessing. For Emma, the blessing of a break in her writing career. For Dexter, someone to tell him he’s being, well, a bit of a jerk. Emma and others tell Dexter, though he, like the people of Jerusalem, is not ready to listen. And so the career in television that promised so much and delivered exactly what it promised. Dexter became a slave to the city, to the critics, the reviews to the next big show, to being Mr popular. We hate that word, he says, ‘famous.’ But he doesn’t, he craves it, the attention. He is not famous of course, infamous perhaps. He is like so many others, just the latest fit for a channel that uses his youthful optimism to sell their image. Though it is fiction, and centuries from the Jerusalem of Herod, it reflects the city that Jesus weeps for. The city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it.
Emma ends up in a dead end job serving terrible Tex-Mex food. To begin with she is able to laugh it off. What’s your stroke? She asks new employee Ian. Waiter / actress, Waiter / writer, Waiter / singer? He is a Waiter / comedian. Emma says she has no stroke, optimistically she claims this job is not forever. Well, a year later we see her offered the job of manager, they want someone who is not going anywhere. And the city claims another victim. Are we captivated by the city of blinding lights? Our citizenship is of heaven suggests Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Christ will be our transformation. We will have to wait to see if Emma and Dexter find their transformation. Lent is our time of preparation and by Easter, as we return to the city, Jesus is prepared to take down the walls and break open the stronghold that the rulers have put in place. Jesus can only do this because he is not tempted by the offerings of the city. Jesus keeps his eyes fixed on the heavenly. As we journey through lent, our feet ought to be following in his ways lest we find ourselves at the mercy of the foxes.