When I was growing up, I remember this old folk tale. For me it was Henny Penny, but it’s known by lots of names: Chicken Little, Goosey Loosey, or even Ducky Lucky. Somewhere in the hodge podge of cutesy rhyming, the story lives on. For over 2000 years actually. YET, as the story has evolved and changed, the phrase that keeps repeating is:
“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”
For those unfamiliar, story is about a chicken who has an acorn (or some similar thing) fall from a tree and hit her/him on the head. In an immediate lack of being able to explain it AND no framework on how to combat the fear, the chicken tears around town yelling to everyone “The sky is falling!” and warning of impending doom. It’s really an age old story, but for some reason, we KEEP needing to hear it. Kind of like the Gospel… huh…interesting.
Ultimately it’s a story built to reveal the absurdity of hysteria - not to say that there aren’t times and places to take heed to warning signs and be on one’s guard. But at its core, HYSTERIA, is a real problem and one that can be easily controlled.
Think about it, how would the sky ACTUALLY fall? Right? Like, will space all of a sudden be our atmosphere? Will the world explode or something? How is it even logistically possible? That’s precisely the point. IT WON’T. The sky isn’t falling.
The moral is to NOT be a chicken, as in crazy worried and consumed by fear,
but have courage and remember what you know.
Jesus could’ve easily added this folk tale to the gospels for us, and in some ways, he kind of did. At the end of Matthew, his disciples were terrified, consumed with doubt and about to step foot into the hardest part of their lives. Jesus took them aside, gave them their instructions on what to do next and then said this:
Matthew 28:20b And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Sisters and brothers, THAT is where our courage comes from. Not some forwarded Facebook post, not some email that has “facts” that no can verify, not from any elected leader, not from our own devices, our own work, our finances or anything we’ve accomplished. IT COMES FROM THE FACT THAT JESUS SAID I WILL BE WITH YOU ALWAYS TO THE END OF THE AGE. Full stop.
There are tons of things that the news is telling us we should be afraid of daily, - heck - HOURLY. It’s set up for us to NEED it, make us think if we miss it, we’ll be toast. “We’re all going to die”, said Chicken Little (read Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Reddit, Facebook, your cousin Ted who sends endless forwards, or your dad who thinks Facebook is just angry Twitter, etc..).
If they only told positive stories, and feel good pieces, we’d only tune in once in a while. We LOVE the stress and chaos, so we buy in, so they feed it to us MORE and MORE. We’re addicts and it’s NOT good for us.
We know where our courage comes from, and we ALSO know the end of the story. Regardless of what each chapter holds, the resurrection story promise of hope is TRUE.
And in the meantime, Jesus is WITH US.
So therefore, WE, the church, have to avoid herd mentality. Don’t forward un-vetted articles, or things that are only meant to cause fear and divide. Ask yourself, is this intended to further drive a wedge between me and others that I disagree with? Then, hit delete. That’s the job of the church. WE don’t get to incite division and hysteria, God calls us to do THE EXACT OPPOSITE. When you’re about to forward on something that is meant to incite hysteria, quit being Henny Penny, Chicken Little or whatever version you read as a kid, hit DELETE and instead remind others that Jesus is ALWAYS with us. Share the peace of Christ instead of trying to tear the body of Christ into pieces - that’s only a communion thing.
Mass hysteria is NOT a calling of the church. We are supposed to stand against it. Division is NOT the job of the church. If you’re finding yourself doing that, stop, FULL STOP.
Stop buying into it. You have nothing to fear, because Jesus said he would be with us, ALWAYS. Not just in church, or when we feel good. Not just when we are reading scripture and serving the homeless. Not just when we give enough offering. BUT EVEN when we are terrible at life. EVEN when we forget that God is good and provident and ENOUGH for us. EVEN when we hit forward or share knowing that it’s only going to hurt someone or feed our hunger for chaos.
Satan is the one who divides. The church is called to come together.
God of redemption, call us out during Lent for the things we do in the darkness. Give us the words to spread your peace, grace, love and humility. Let us find ourselves in your gospel, not in our vitriol. And Come Lord Jesus, be quick with your peace and forgiveness. In the name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.