Woman, behold your son. Son Behold your mother. (John 19:26–27)
Dying on the cross Jesus gives his mother and his disciple to each other in love, knowing they would need each other in those coming days of grief and confusion. In such a moment of agony Jesus is still thinking of others – loving them, nurturing them. And nurture is something that has been talked about very much at All Hallows in the last few weeks.
How do we in our own need and grief and suffering when faced with the death of a loved one, or serious illness, or lack of stability in life use that to reach out to others?
Or do we instead prefer to curl up in a ball and hope those others will go away. Their hurts and anguish not really our problem, not really our concern.
I didn’t have the privilege of knowing Andrew Shackleton but I remember hearing of his death around this time a couple of years ago and what I heard made me feel I had missed out. In the midst of his dying and departing from the earth what you told me was how he reached out to you, ministered to you, and nurtured you, still to the end concerned with your wellbeing.
It also raises questions for us about our own need to mother or nurture, those of us who have no children by choice are aware of the ways that God uses this to help us to find creative ways to nurture others – this is a concern that is ongoing for All Hallows as a whole I think given our ministry to LGBTI people and Asylum Seekers and one to continue to think about this Holy Week and Eastertide – how do we provide an alternative family to those forced to flee from their country, often still living in the UK in a state of trauma and isolation? Having to leave families that ordinarily would do the nurturing that God is now asking us to do for them. How do we nurture those who have been rejected for daring to be themselves and be true to their orientation and gender identity? How do we teach them that family can be good, that compromising who they are is not necessary to receive ours and Jesus’ love and acceptance? How do we offer to them the opportunity to hear, this church will be your mother?