Sunday’s Gospel reading in John 15 includes this verse: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus is offering his final words to his disciples before he is arrested, tried and executed. The next words are, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” Jesus commands us to love one another.
Last week I sat in Family Court as a guardian ad litem. I witnessed the brokenness of families. So many life choices that have caused harm to all the parties. Judgments were made to reunify and others to terminate parental rights. I saw mercy in decisions and compassion in justice. Yet, in my spirit, I heard Jesus’ command to love one another. Jesus came so that the world might be saved. He came for every person in that courtroom. He came for the volunteers, the lawyers and the judge. He came for the children, the fathers, and the mothers.
This Sunday is also Mother’s Day. Social media will overflow with pictures of mothers and stories of sacrifice and love. I am currently a motherless child. My grandmothers and my mother have all passed away. I am also a mother who has experienced the loss of a child. Sunday my heart will be filled with the love many women have shown me, including my mother and grandmothers. Resting within that love will be the pain of women who have lost children or have desired children but remain childless. Resting within that love will be families that are broken because of the brokenness of their mother. The love within me will be resting in the love of God for me and for all the women who rejoice and all the women who grieve and all the women who struggle. We are imperfect human beings.
Jesus said, “No greater love than to lay down one’s life.” Jesus laid down His life for us. He taught us how to love before He died. He healed the sick. He ate with sinners. He called us to repentance and reconciliation. He called imperfect people to be His disciples.
In this broken world and these broken families, we are called to love. Breaking patterns of sin requires time and a village of support. We cannot break the pattern, but we can be the one who walks beside without judgment. We can be the one who provides the resources. We can be the one who sits in court as a voice for the children. We can be the one that fights for affordable safe housing. We can be the one who teaches life skills. We can be the one to advocate for crisis shelters, better leave practices for working single parents, and affordable child and elder care.
We can love as Jesus taught us to love. Some of us have had mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers who showed us how. We are not able to do this on our own. It is only through the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit that we can love as Christ loved.
My prayer this Saturday before Mother’s Day is that the love of God that holds you close to His heart pour through you into the world so that the world might know healing and become whole. Imagine that world. Imagine healed families. Imagine your heart healed by God’s love. It is possible. God promised. I for one want to be Jesus’ friend. Do you?