Scripture: John 14:23-29 (NRSV)
Jesus answered him, 'Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
'I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, "I am going away, and I am coming to you." If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.
These words of Jesus have been comforting to me over the years, especially in times of loss. My mother passed at the young age of 54, and as we approach Mother's Day, I am reminded of her warmth, story-telling, humor, and love. At the time of her passing, my oldest son was only a newborn baby; he's now almost nine and has a six-year-old brother. I try my best to pass on my mom's gifts of story-telling and humor to my sons, and yet it's just not the same. I find myself wishing she could be here to see these beautiful boys grow up, and my tears flow regularly.
Loss is never easy, and even with time it hurts. Jesus didn't say it would be easy - he simply said he'd give us his peace, and we can release our fears. I often read sections of John chapter fourteen at memorial services, and along with releasing our fears I am comforted by these words: "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going" (John 14:3-4). "'I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live" (John 14:18-19).
"Because I live, you also will live." I find strength in the assurance of life, and of eternal life. I praise God for every moment shared with my mom, every way that she blessed me and every way that I blessed her. And I thank God we have a risen Christ who promises us we are never alone. Happy Mother's Day, Mom - we miss you!
O God, you are our Strength and our Redeemer. Nothing separates us from your love, even death itself. We praise you, today and always. Amen.