We experienced a tragedy in our house the other week. Our beautiful white laying hen crowed.
We weren’t sure what we were hearing at first. The sound was hoarse and pubescent, nothing like the lusty, swaggering cock-a-doodle-doo of the big boys.
But it grew louder each day until there was no way we could pretend we didn’t hear anything. He crowed in the coop when I opened the doors. He crowed on the lawn. He crowed to wake the dead and–what’s worse–the neighbors. I’m awake and alive and strong! he said. Watch me crow! Cock-a-doodle-doo!
So much for our dream of scads of white eggs. Maybe we went wrong with the name: “Fierceling Rex.” We should have known the Rex would get us into trouble. It’s just that “Fierceling Regina” didn’t have the same ring.
In Christian tradition, the rooster is a symbol of Christ’s resurrection. Sometimes, you’ll find it topping church steeples. The rooster crows when night is over. The darkness has passed, the new day has dawned. Every morning becomes a little Easter.
But the rooster can also be a symbol of betrayal. The Apostle Peter betrayed his friend and teacher on the road to the cross. You’ll remember the story and what Peter said: I never knew him. And then the cock crowed.
We find ourselves standing between these realities–betrayal and resurrection–two ways that life gets turned on its head.
Sometimes, life can feel like betrayal. Our hopes and dreams are betrayed by circumstances, betrayed by people, betrayed by our own stumbling mistakes. Things fall apart. The beautiful laying hen turns out to be a rooster. At our lowest moments, we can feel cheated, as if life (or maybe God) owed us something.
Resurrection is a reversal of a different kind. Things don’t go as planned. Instead, they pass right through the night and the darkness. There’s a flash of mercy, and we see a path open up in the sea.
The rooster’s crow rings in the tomb, the death shroud sloughs off. Jesus says, Come on out, you Lazarus!
And we do.
Or we don’t.
There’s a part that depends on our own willingness to walk the tensile line between the betrayal and resurrection. I don’t mean that it’s just about our own good attitude. If life gives you roosters, make chicken soup. I think it’s more about our own openness to God being at work in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Do we have a vivid sense of God’s resurrectional power and possibilities?
What do we hear when the rooster crows?