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…the sons of Zebedee!”

I just noticed (only been reading the Bible for > five decades, but hey, I’m slow) that the mother of the sons of Zebedee was named in that group of women who showed the loyalty and endurance to be at the crucifixion of Christ,

There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. (Matthew 27:55-56)

This is the same woman who saw the Messiah as a dispenser of political patronage positions, and riled the apostles by stealing face time to that end,

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” (Matthew 20:20-21)

Jesus turned her down tactfully, calmed the angered apostles, and used the event to give all of them greater insight into God’s purpose and their place in him.

The mom (traditionally called Salome, as that is the name carried by the woman in Mark’s parallel passage) might have stomped off in entitled anger or slunk off in shame. But instead she hung in there through the worst of what Jesus said was coming – the cross.

She might have wavered after that – it is odd that Matthew names only the two Marys in the next chapter as he narrates Christ’s resurrection from the dead and appearance to various believers. Maybe she was heartbroken, maybe she was in fear, or maybe she saw no benefit to her sons from a man dead and buried. Whatever the case, she was not different from others in those tumultuous days,

When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. (Matthew 28:17)

Oh, right – What the infernal realm does that have to do with Stand Firm and all that?

The various voices here at SF have heard NO, just like the mother of Zebedee’s sons. We heard the church to which we’ve devoted much of our lives say no to our arguments and appeals as it decided to skip happily along with the culture around it.

And like that same mom we’ve hung in there to see ugly stuff that Jesus said would come; loss of friendships, loss of standing in the church and, in some cases, even loss of property. We’ve certainly caught some of the cavalier disrespect heaped upon our Lord,

It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household! (Matthew 10:25)

Speaking only for myself, it’s taken a toll. All kinds of “If only” and “I should have” type playbacks fill my head. I’ve been through some uber-dark emotional stretches. Bearing the big L-for-LOSER on my forehead is no fun.

I bear the shame of having contributed to church decline by faulty thinking and teaching in the early years of my ordained work. I face the reality that I spent a season trying to justify myself by “success metrics” rather than fidelity to the Gospel. I know I’ve sometimes returned curse for curse or just hid away rather than deal with the hassles.

Like the mother of the sons of Zebedee, I’ve been a bonehead in plain view. Yet God gave me comfort in seeing that note about the women at the cross in a new light.

This mom at the cross tells me: Fail but keep following. Waver, wonder but keep showing up. Lose but keep loving God and neighbor.

My hope is that this latest incarnation of SF will be good medicine for those beaten up in the drunken brawl that passed for our church life and be an energy drink for disciples going forward.

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