In 4 months, we’ll have a son. A little boy! A bright, lively spirit that I imagine will be loud, adventurous, wild, curious, tender, rebellious, and deeply loved all at once.
8 months ago, another mother lost her son 557 miles from where I live.
In Ferguson, Missouri on a hot August afternoon, Michael Brown was shot by a police officer. Michael: another little boy- a bright, wild, rebellious and deeply loved all at once little boy-was shot at just 18 years old.
Different accounts about what happened to Michael Brown swirled. But somehow, that renewing and truth-telling commandment from God to love your neighbor as yourself was lost in the midst of a police chase after an afternoon convenience store robbery.
Somehow that deep and old commandment from God found Exodus and repeated by Christ in the gospel of Matthew that thou shall not kill… was broken in the midst of a young black man standing with his hands up, OR charging a police officer- who can say? But 12 shots were fired and a mother lost her son 8 months ago.
As I prepare for motherhood my joy and hope builds- but there is still a small whisper that reminds me: mothers are losing their children every day.
Tonight, we reach the end of our 40 day season of remembrance. On Good Friday, we come to the cross: another place where a mother lost her son.
On Good Friday, we are asked to bear witness to this pain.
We are called to go to the foot of the cross with Mary, a mother who lost her son. We are called to stay at the foot of the cross with Michael Brown’s mother as she grieves her son. We are called to go to the foot of the cross with all mothers who have lost children.
Good Friday reminds me that perhaps the world must be broken open first, to let the light in.
It is not difficult to see the broken pieces of the world around us. We live in a world where mothers still lose their sons and where 1 in 9 people go hungry each day worldwide.
We live in a world where 150 million people are homeless or live in refugee camps and temporary housing.
We see these 40 day cycles of brokenness throughout the Bible, and throughout the world today.
In the book of Genesis, God sent rain for 40 days and 40 nights in the great flood of Noah. Water filled the streets and spilled into everything. In 40 days the world was destroyed. (Genesis 7:4).
In the 40 days after Michael Brown was shot, protesters and swat teams swarmed in Ferguson, and tear gas filled the streets- spilling into everything. In 40 days, the shrine to Michael Brown was burned down, and the town was nearly destroyed.
In a world where God’s people were wandering in the desert- homeless and living in refugee camps on their way to the Promised Land… Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai with God in the book of Exodus. Here he received the 10 commandments that would build the moral backbone of the world.
In a world where 150 million people are wandering- homeless or live in refugee camps, we must remember that during a roughly 40-day fall Habitat for Humanity season in any given city, groups of people construct over 15 houses for families in need, building the backbone of communities.
In 1 Kings, Elijah spent time speaking to God about shifting power, about rising up so that people would be brought back to God. He spent 40 days and 40 nights walking to Mount Horeb and it made a difference. (1 Kings 19:8).
In Selma, Alabama in January 1965, Martin Luther King spent time speaking to God’s people about rising up so that they would gain equality and voting rights. For just over 40 days and 40 nights, the people of Selma planned to walk together to Montgomery and it made a difference.
Through homelessness and wandering, through long walks to Mount Horeb and Montgomery Alabama in search of redemption, through water and tear gas flooding streets, through mothers for generations grieving the death of their children dying out of order… at the foot of the cross and on the streets of Ferguson…
In Lent, we remember that God shows up and brings hope at the moment we are broken open.
Good Friday is a night to remember that God’s work often begins with a death- and rises out of the midst of 40 days of brokenness.
But soon, we will encounter the empty tomb. Soon, we will be reminded that a light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never overcome the light.