"I am the way, the truth, and the life," Jesus told a band of anxious holy troublemakers (John 14:6). It's a series of words that has been handed down over the ages, crocheted into pillows and written on careworn paper carried in wallets. Yet it has also been used as a curmudgeon against those who did not profess Christianity, largely because of the words that follow: "no ones comes to the Father except through me."
When Jesus speaks these words, he's speaking just before the day of crucifixion to a roomful of disciples in an upstairs room. They're rightly scared. Those who might be guessing that he's "going away" might not feel adequate or up to the job of carrying on the ministry for which he'd trained them. However, he's using the words not as a test to measure how and if one may be a truly faithful person. Rather, he's using them to say, "you know how to live in the world. You know what truth is. You know what matters, because you've been with me all this time." Against the competing ideologies of the time - especially the idea that the Emperor was a God - the exclusive phrase he used about getting "to the Father" (God) was intended to keep them focused on the goodness of their ministry. He was commissioning them to go out into the world, live, and teach the bold life he taught them, and not flinch. Love is that powerful.
Those of us who are now the "body of Christ," the Church, might also feel anxious, too. We might not feel up to the task of "being the body of Christ," or "being the Church," as one UCC slogan puts it. But we are. One way we understand this is understanding what it means to be a mother. Not all of us understand or will ever experience motherhood as the physical and emotional bond that some experience. We honor that as a society and a community. But all of us, regardless of gender identity, should be able to celebrate mothering. Sometimes, mothering is giving something for the goodwill of another out of love and not expecting a reward (think of the child that doesn't say thanks after a diaper change). Or having a relationship with another person so deep that we understand their capabilities and their limits, and help them develop both.
This Sunday, we gather to celebrate motherhood. And we gather to celebrate it as an example of what it means to live in the Jesus Way: of giving, of leading, of caring, and especially of loving as the prime motivators behind our every action.
See you Sunday, and bring a friend!