Defenestration

Prague Defenestration Site

I happened upon this word (defenestration) last week as I was working on my sermon entitled “All for One and One for All.”  My sermon talked about how we are all connected, as Paul describes in Sunday’s scripture (1 Cor. 12:12-27). I was googling to see if there were other uses of that motto made famous by Alexandre Dumas in The Three Musketeers. It turns out it was the rallying cry for Bohemian protestants in 1618 when they lost their exemption from converting to the king’s religion.  Their punishment for refusing to convert was defenestration.  They were thrown out of a window, which sounds much more like something from a Monty Python movie than an actual punishment.  Its effectiveness is also questionable, although when these protestants survived their defenestration, people said it was divine intervention.

The sermon text for this coming Sunday is the story of Jesus speaking in his hometown synagogue, and riling up the people so much that they want to throw him off a cliff.  (Luke 4)  It sounds quite similar to being thrown out a window, doesn’t it?  Maybe I’m overly fascinated by this idea because it sounds so silly to me, and so much like tossing things in the garbage or sweeping things under the rug or covering our eyes to pretend we aren’t in the situation we don’t want to be in.

Besides, defenestration is such an undignified way to die.  Maybe that’s partly the point.  Defenestration is what happened to Queen Jezebel (2 Kings 9:32) in response to her persecution of those who followed God instead of Baal.  It was conveniently simple since she happened to be leaning out the window at the time, taunting Jehu who was passing by the building.  All Jehu had to do was ask someone to push her and the deed was done.

Looking at the list of defenestrations throughout history it appears that more of them happen as an angry response than as a pre-planned execution.  This doesn’t surprise me.  Surely with time for greater thought, a more effective method would be chosen.  I have thrown things in anger.  I have a book that bears the mark of the wall against which I threw it when I was around ten.  I don’t remember what prompted that anger, but I will forever remember my response.

We say that when God closes a door he opens a window.  If our response is then to throw whatever we don’t like out that open window, what does that say about us?

Windows of opportunity show up at strategic points in Bible history.  Noah uses the window in the ark to test the waters, so to speak, by sending out a raven and a dove.  Rahab hangs a red cord out her window to signal the Israelite army which building to spare as they attack Jericho (Joshua 2). The Apostle Paul escapes through a basket lowered out a window (2 Corinthians 11:33).

In Malachi, God says, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.”

The windows of heaven then are the skies above through which God pours down his blessings, especially the rain that waters the earth and makes things grow.  Following this line of thinking, Jesus is describing a defenestration in Luke 10:18 when he says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”  God threw Satan out the window.

Maybe that day God was preparing to create Marie Kondo and deciding what to keep or toss based on whether or not it gave him joy?

May we be prayerful, mindful, and joyful of our responses to whatever happens in our lives, and always be careful around open windows.

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