Once a month, I attend a worship planning meeting along with nine other members, give or take a few, where we brainstorm with Pastor Craig on upcoming sermon series. One of our sessions touched on a sermon series that would encourage members–old and new–to become more involved in the different ways to serve in the church. This brought up the story of “The Little Red Hen” (yes – we are a very “spiritual group”).
Just in case some of you are not familiar with it or need a refresher, it goes like this…
Once upon a time, there was a little red hen who lived on a farm. She was friends with a lazy dog, a sleepy cat, and a noisy yellow duck. One day, she found some seeds on the ground and had an idea: she would plant the seeds. She asked her friends, “Who will help me plant the seeds?” Her friends all replied, “Not I.”
“Then I will,” she said, and planted the seeds all by herself.
When the seeds had grown, she asked her friends, “Who will help me cut the wheat?” Her friends again replied, “Not I.” So she cut the wheat by herself. When all the wheat was cut, she asked her friends, “Who will help me take the wheat to the mill?” In unison, “Not I,” replied her friends. So she brought the wheat to the mill and carried the heavy bag of flour home by herself.
The tired little hen asked her friends, “Who will help me bake the bread?” Each one in turn said, “Not I.” When the bread was finished, the tired little hen asked her friends, “Who will help me eat the bread?” Her friends, the lazy dog, the sleepy cat and the noisy yellow duck all said, “I will!”
“No!” Said the little red hen, and she ate all the bread by herself.
I am not sure how this came up as something we might use in a sermon series (you will have to ask Karen Huber). We joked about it a little, and then we moved on to other ideas. But it was still there in the back of my mind, and I began to imagine Jesus as the little red hen.
In the gospels, Jesus often referred to seeds. Throughout Mark Chapter 4, he uses the parable of the grain being scattered on the ground. He said some will fall on rocky ground and not take root, making it unfruitful, but the seeds–even the size of a mustard seed–that fell on fertile ground would grow to great heights and bear good fruit. Can you imagine his disappointment when the Pharisees rejected what he had to offer?
Jesus spent three years showing God’s love. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, touched the leper, and healed the broken-hearted. Jesus fed the multitudes with food for the body and spoke words of reconciliation to bring them closer to God. It must have grieved him to know how many were there out of curiosity and did not take his words to heart.
Towards the end of his ministry, He was tired and He knew His time was near. He gathered His friends and asked them to go to the garden of Gethsemane to pray with Him. He asked them to stay awake and watch while he prayed. Can you feel His disappointment when His friends time and time again fell asleep and He prayed alone?
Jesus was arrested after one of his friends betrayed Him, and His other friends, out of fear for their lives, ran away. He was alone when He faced the angry mob of people, the religious leaders and the Roman authorities. Can you imagine how alone He felt when He thought His own father had forsaken Him?
And He died alone.
Thank goodness our story has a different outcome! The Little Red Hen, after doing all the work herself was not willing to share her bread. Jesus, on the other hand, willingly gave His very life so His friends–you and I–can have eternal life with Him.
What wondrous love is this?