We Are Loved Into Kinship


As we remember and honor the death of Jesus this Friday of Holy Week, we ponder injustice and loss. We remember what Jesus and his followers endured millennia ago, and we reflect upon the injustices and losses in our world today.

During his life, Jesus loved and included others so fully that it threatened those who wielded power, particularly the leaders of the Roman state. Jesus loved and included others, and he defended them fiercely, especially all who were marginalized. He did this continually in the face of resistance, and ultimately, he did so in the face of an excruciatingly painful execution.

The writers of the four gospels each tell the story of Jesus’ death from particular perspectives, emphasizing different details. The larger narrative is painful as Jesus experiences betrayal, arrest, torture, public ridicule, and death. But even as these details are woven together in the four gospels, there are several moments of grace and human connection. One moment has been especially meaningful to me over the years.

It is a scene from the cross which is told in two, short verses.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. (John 19:26-27)

Jesus demonstrated love even as he suffered injury and trauma. While he is dying, he gives these two beloved people to one another. Jesus loves them into kinship. 

This passage has been especially meaningful to me over the years. I have written about it before, reflecting on the ways my life has been given over to others in the midst of the community of faith. As we embrace the personhood and belonging of one another, we are loved into kinship. These bonds can be just as vital and formative as the bonds we experienced when we were born or adopted into our family of origin.

On this Friday of Holy Week, we remember injustice and loss, and we remember that Jesus loves humanity into kinship. We are called to follow his example. We can do this powerfully when others experience injustice and loss, offering ourselves in love as we embrace the personhood and belonging of others.

We can also reflect upon kinship through the lens of the injustices and losses which have taken place this very week. Our world is deeply acquainted with trauma and injury. In the midst of great pain, we are always invited to embrace one another in kinship.

We belong to one another.
But too often, trauma and death become occasions for enmity.

There have been recent bombings in Belgium, Iraq, the Ivory Coast, and Turkey.
These losses are occasions to demonstrate kinship as we show love and support those who know grief and injustice. Many have shown love in these ways, but at the same time, Muslim communities in the U.S.are now experiencing an additional wave of scapegoating. Some are calling for methods to profile the neighborhoods where they live.

In the face of trauma and injury,
will we truly embrace one another in kinship?

And yesterday, North Carolina state legislators voted a new bill into law which will nullify local anti-discrimination laws for transgender, lesbian, gay, and bisexual citizens. This has become the catalyst for grief, outrage, and fear among these communites and for those who support them. This news is an occasion to demostrate kinship as we show love toward those who know grief and injustice. Many are making their voices heard, but at the same time, some religious communities will continue to applaud these new initiatives.

In the face of trauma and inujry, 
will we truly embrace one another in kinship?

I wonder if Jesus’ mother and his disciple were surprised and deeply moved by the words he spoke from the cross as he brought them together. I imagine that they remembered their love for him as when they showed love to one another.

We have been loved into kinship.
Now, will we show that love toward one another?

Renee Roederer



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