Love to Mend the World

Lent 4 O Christ the Pelican.
Sound issues with the last part of the reflection so it is printed below. – Janice

Reflection: O Christ, the Pelican 

Since the early second century the Pelican has featured in Christian art as a symbol of Jesus. So, today, we need to learn more about Pelicans. 

You are looking at a few examples in paintings, murals, stained glass and sculpture. 

Thomas Dekker, the playwright who called the four birds out of the ark during the pandemic of 1608called the “Black Death” in England had this to say: 

“The third bird that I call out of Noah’s ark is the Pelican. The nature of the Pelican is to peck her own bosom and with the drops of her blood to feed her young ones. Christ, the Son of God, is the Pelican whose blood was shed to feed us. The physician made a medicine of his own body to cure us.”

A writer reflecting on the Pelican in early Christian art says:

“[The pelican] doesn’t soar like the mighty eagle nor symbolize peace like a calm dove. However, the imagery of the mother pelican striking her breast to feed her nestlings to prevent starvation in time of famine is rooted in an ancient legend that is older than Christianity. It was believed that she feeds her dying chicks with her own blood to revive them from death, but, in turn, lost her own life.”

Pelicans aren’t really mentioned in the bible but we did hear a gospel story today that evokes a similar image of Jesus gathering her chicks and loving as completely and fiercely as a pelican does.

”How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.”

Whether we talk about the Pelican who, in the legend gives her blood to feed her chicks, or a hen gathering the chicks under the wing, we are talking about Love. 

Sometimes in Lent we get to a place where we talk about Jesus sacrificing his life to pay for our sins. Let’s not go there. There is something much bigger going on; something even more beautiful and healing. 

We are not in the hands of an angry God who is so sickened by our flawed lives that he sends his son to suffer and die to redeem us.

We are in the hands of a fiercely loving God who LOVED the world in the way: sending Jesus so we could see what Love looks like and spend our whole lives trying to be that Love in the world. 

Of course we sin, we fall short, we miss the mark and cause brokenness in our own lives and in the lives of others, but all that is held in the container Divine Love, not eternal Divine Punishment. 

“It was not God’s intent that Jesus die.” says one scholar, “God’s intent was that people listen to Jesus, follow Jesus, be changed by Jesus. That was God’s intent. – Leslie Weatherhead

Jesus walked Love’s Way and that way lead to the cross. Jesus gave his life on the cross in the conviction that love is stronger than death and that Love leads, not to death, but to life.  This is a beautiful thing — love “so amazing, so divine.”

Meditate on Love. this week Really look for the energy of Love  and compassion in the world. We’ll find it if we are looking with the eyes of our heart. We really will. 

And now, we take our stand beneath the cross of Jesus …. and what we see there is a “love that will not let us go.” This is pelican love. Let it touch you. Let it inspire you. Despite all our flaws and human brokenness, we can bring that Love into the world around us through our hearts and the work of our hands. We really can. That’s a Lent challenge for this week.

Sing: VU #135 Beneath the Cross of Jesus (verse 1) 
Sing:  VU #658 O Love That Will Not let me Go. (vs. 1 & 4)

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