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Gospel: Luke 13:31-35

31At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to [Jesus,] “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”

Today’s lesson speaks of Jesus’ loving embrace of God’s beloved city, Jerusalem. The city is the place where God resided – that was the belief of the Children of Abraham. The Holy City. The lament Jesus offers is one of compassion, and the image is powerful – a mother hen protecting her chicks in a touch that offers shelter and security.

A healing touch. Touching is a boundary issue in our time, and even more so in the time of a pandemic.

That being said, there is something powerful about a healing touch that offers us something for which we yearn. A healthy touch.

This is a poem written several years ago. I think it speaks well to what Jesus shares in the lesson today.

Touch in Church" - By Ann Weems, in Reading for Rainbows

What is all this touching in church? It used to be a person could come to church and sit in the pew and not be bothered by all this friendliness and certainly not by touching. I used to come to church and leave untouched. Now I have to be nervous about what's expected of me. I have to worry about responding to the person sitting next to me. Oh, I wish it could be the way it used to be I could just ask the person next to me: How are you? And the person could answer: Oh, just fine, And we'd both go home . . . strangers who have known each other for twenty years. But now the minister asks us to look at each other. I'm worried about that hurt look I saw in that woman's eyes. Now I'm concerned, because when the minister asks us to pass the peace, The man next to me held my hand so tightly I wondered if he had been touched in years. Now I'm upset because the lady next to me cried and then apologized And said it was because I was so kind and that she needed a friend right now. Now I have to get involved. Now I have to suffer when this community suffers. Now I have to be more than a person coming to observe a service. That man last week told me I'd never know how much I'd touched his life. All I did was smile and tell him I understood what it was to be lonely. Lord, I'm not big enough to touch and be touched! The stretching scares me. What if I disappoint somebody? What if I'm too pushy? What if I cling too much? What if somebody ignores me? "Pass the peace." - "The peace of God be with you." "And with you." - And mean it. Lord, I can't resist meaning it! I'm touched by it, I'm enveloped by it! I find I do care about that person next to me! I find I am involved! - And I'm scared. O Lord, be here beside me. You touch me, Lord, so that I can touch and be touched! So that I can care and be cared for! So that I can share my life with all those others that belong to you! All this touching in church -- Lord, it's changing me!

We are touched in the waters of baptism.

We are touched in the bread and wine/body and blood at the altar.

We are touched by the love of Jesus, who touched the untouchable, loved the unlovable and forgave the unforgivable.

Receive the touch, the warm embrace of God. Invite others to be touched by God as well.

Let us pray: Almighty God, We give thanks to you for your loving embrace. Touched by your love, surrounded by your grace, may we love as you have first loved us. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen

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