On Sunday I spoke at the Mothering Sunday Eucharist at St Stephens. Quite an enjoyable experience and I think probably a first as I’ve not spoken at this service before. I took the text of John 19:25-27
Standing near his cross were Jesus’ mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the follower he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the follower, “Here is your mother.”From that time on, the follower took her to live in his home’.
I wondered why Jesus did this. I mean … we know he had brothers and so logically, according to the local custom, they would have looked after their mum. There was no need for Jesus to worry about her welfare. With that support in place I found myself asking, ‘why is Jesus doing this?’ Or … ‘what is the gospel writer wanting us to hear?’
I’m not entirely sure – I rarely am – but I make a suggestion that Jesus here is reframing and reinterpreting what family, and therefore relationships, are all about. I wonder whether Jesus is redefining what family is for those who follow him; and by that I mean ‘the church’. I wonder whether he is saying that this is now greater than a blood tie.
It’s as if he is saying that we are all to be family to each other … to mother each other, to look out for each other, to care, to love, to protect each other.
I then started to dream … what would churches be like if people acted like loving family to each other? I mean if they really did this properly, really really treated others as family … and embraced the different brothers, mothers, sisters, sons, cantankerous old aunts …. and so on. If that really happened … if we disagreed and loved, fell out and loved, enjoyed life together and had fun …. well I thought that might look quite good, colourful even (!), it might even transform a few places ….
…. and that might just be good news worth getting excited about!