The Women

Early this morning I began thinking about them. We don’t know if they were at supper the night before. We don’t know who brought them the news about Jesus’ arrest. We only know that they went to the cross.
Here are their names, according to:
Many women…among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. (Matthew)
There were also women…among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome…and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem. (Mark)
But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching these things. (Luke)
Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s siter, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (John)
They stood at the cross, and they witnessed his death. And I cannot stop thinking about them, these vaguely named women with one exception, grouped and regrouped.
We watched “Gospel of John” this week, and that film placed Mary Magdalene at the supper the night of his arrest, as a witness to the Farewell Discourse, as a beloved disciple touched by our Lord and going out with him across the Kidron Valley. And it’s not enough for me. Weren’t they all there? These nice Jewish women left their homes and their families and went with him. They “provided for him.” Surely they made the supper happen after the disciples found the room. Surely they were the first people some stray, fleeing disciple ran back to tell. Surely they went out looking for him and became part of the crowd watching the terrible events of Friday unfold.
This is the first year in my ministry that I haven’t had a service on Good Friday. They have been sparsely attended, and in two churches, only by women. We’ve sat at the foot of the cross together, looking on from the distance of almost two thousand years, feeling their grief and some sense of his pain, loving him in our way, as they loved him in theirs.
Today I’ll go with my daughter to another church for a noon service, to grieve for Jesus, and I’ll be remembering those other women, with their shifting names and their unshifting hearts.

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