This is the radio devotion I recorded for Wednesday of Holy Week 2020.
Thanks to KCNI/KBBN for airing devotions by the Custer County Ministerial Association.
Good morning. This is Matt Fowler from Broken Bow United Methodist Church. With the spread of the COVID-19 virus, everything seems a little uncertain right now, and so, this week, I’m exploring five historic spiritual practices, or disciplines, that can help us experience God’s presence in the midst of our daily lives. And because it’s Holy Week, I’m going to be looking at Jesus’ last words spoken from the cross. Adam Hamilton develops these ideas in his book, The Walk, which my church has been reading during Lent.
Before jumping in, it’s important to note two things. First, the seven last words are collected by reading across the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each include different statements from Jesus. Second, because of the brutal reality of crucifixion, saying each of these things would have increased Jesus’ pain during crucifixion, and yet he found it important to say these things. These two things add weight or importance to these statements: they cost Jesus dearly to say them, and the early Christian gospel writers thought they were so important that they included them in the gospels.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus sees his mother standing alongside Jesus’ closest disciple, presumably John. Pulling himself up by the nails in his wrists so that he could speak, he tells her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to him, “Here is your mother” (Jn 19:26-27, NRSV).
Throughout the gospels, we’ve seen Jesus serving others. In Maundy Thursday worship tomorrow, which you can participate in online at BBUMC.org and Facebook, we’ll hear again about Jesus washing his disciples’ feet and telling them to serve others, just as he’s served them (Jn 13:1-16). Similarly, we remember that Jesus told his disciples, “the Son of Man [how Jesus often referred to himself] came not to be served but to serve” (Mt 20:28, NRSV).
When Jesus tells Mary and John, “Here is your son,” and “Here is your mother,” Jesus is again inviting all who follow Jesus to live like him: to be people of service for others. Here he was, dying, and Jesus was thinking about and serving others.
Sometimes, maybe even today, we experience things that lead us to doubt or question if or where God is. As we talked about earlier this week, Jesus had every reason to question God’s presence or vision for his life and creation. But rather than dwell in that space, Jesus does exactly what he’s always done, what he knows to be right and good: he seeks to care for others.
Jesus invited John to care for someone who was not his mother, as though she were his mother. So here’s the invitation from Jesus: who in our lives is Jesus calling us to care for like we would care for our own parents. Maybe it is our parents. Have we talked to them this week? Who else might need a phone call from us today, amidst all this physical distancing? Is there someone to whom you could drop off groceries or a meal for?
But here’s the challenge in serving others with kindness. Are we willing to be interrupted? Are we willing to listen to the Spirit’s whispers in our lives to make the first call or ask the next question? Are we willing to put aside the things we were planning to do, perhaps important things, in order to bear Christ’s caring presence for others? When we do, when we serve others with simple acts of familial kindness, we experience God’s presence together. May we be a means of God’s grace today, and each day, through simple acts of kindness.