• Call to Worship – Rev. Val & Congregation
  • Opening Prayer – Rev. Val & Congregation
  • Gloria Patri (UMH 70)
  • Hymn: Seek Ye First (UMH 405)
  • Pastoral Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Peace Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Peace Hymn: Let There Be Light (UMH 440)
  • Scripture Readings – Rev. Val
  • Message: Woman, Here Is Your Son – Rev. Val
  • Hymn: Help Us To Accept Each Other (UMH 560)
  • Offertory Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Doxology (UMH 95)
  • Benediction – Rev. Val


Open the eyes of our understanding and prepare our hearts by the power of Your Spirit, that we may receive Your scriptures with much joy and rejoicing and may leave today having a deeper understanding of who You are and who You would have us to be.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

John 1:1-5, 12-13 (NRSV) – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

Mathew 12:46-50 (NRSV) – While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”  But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

John 19:25b-27 (NRSV) – Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 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.

The scriptures of God for the People of God.

Thanks be to God.

MESSAGE – Woman, Here Is Your Son

Parts of this message are adapted or cited directly from “Seven Words: Listening to Christ from the Cross,” by Susan Robb (Abingdon Press, ISBN: 978-1 7910-0781-2). All other citations are included in the transcript.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. Amen.

Jesus is there dying on the cross. The passage from John tells us who was there as near to him as they could be. It would be simple and fair enough to assume that his statement, “Woman, here is your son” to his mother and “Here is your mother” to his disciple was his way of making sure that his mother would be cared for after he was gone.  But not just his mother.  Two of the people he loved most in the earthly world were standing there – his mother and the disciple that he loved … his best friend … and he entrusted them to one another. “Woman, here is your son.” He was telling his mother to treat the disciple as she had treated him, and she was telling the disciple to care for her as if she were his own mother.

It was what many on their death beds do if they know they’re dying, and their family is there with them. They say things like, “Take care of each other.” So on a first read of this passage, that might be what most people take away from it. And, for some people, that might be enough.

When Susan Robb wrote the book, Seven Words, we were only a few months into the global pandemic and life as we knew it had turned completely upside down. We were so isolated from one another, even introverts suffered from loneliness. Well, most of them, anyway. We had to learn to function, to communicate, to work in new ways. Wherever possible, we converted to working remotely. From kindergarten through graduate school, schools taught online. Those industries that could made it possible for employees to work from home. Even church moved online. Thousands of new, creative, home-based businesses were started. And we found new ways to socialize through apps like Zoom and Google Meets and other Internet based video-conferencing programs.

Many families experienced new ways of being as well. No longer locked into the busy-ness of going here and there, families began to reconnect – not just those in the same household, but … again thanks to technology … geography was no longer an issue. To some degree, the extended family was restored. Aunts, uncles, and cousins one only got to see in person occasionally were now just a click or two of the mouse button away and families found ways to spend time together wherever they were through the same apps businesses and institutions were using.

People in multiple states shared dinners, social gatherings, even watched movies together … without being in the same place and space. A whole new way of being.

This is not to in anyway ignore or diminish the suffering that took place. People lost jobs, there was food insecurity, and some lived under the threat of eviction from their homes because they had no way to pay their rent or their house payments. And while there were even greater losses, we persevered.

While today many of the mandates have been eased, we are witness to and participants in a changed world where many of the technological changes have continued. Like being here with all of you and live on Facebook at the same time. Like scheduling meetings and conferences and interviews to take place on Zoom, allowing a more diverse group to participate.

A new way of being, of connecting, of engaging with one another.

And that’s what Jesus was doing when he said “Woman, here is your son … Here is your mother.” He’d stated it once, that day they told him his mother and brothers were waiting outside to speak to him. He wasn’t being rude or disrespectful to them that day. He was making a point. “Whoever serves God is my family … my mother … my brothers … my sisters … all of you.”

But there’s more to that passage as well. Being his family isn’t as simple as it sounds and at the same time is as simple as it sounds. Serve God. And what does God want us to do? Now you go back to the two greatest commandments; To love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love one another as you are loved.

We typically mess those two up. Oh, we love the God we’ve created in our own image … the one who loves what we love, disapproves of those we don’t love, and doesn’t interfere with our plans too much. But love God on God’s terms? Not so much. And that love one another thing? If we did that, there’d be no poverty, no homeless, no divisions or polarizations, no war. And yet here we are.  An amputated limb from the body of Christ living in a divided community and nation just as dysfunctional as many families.

By setting the example he does by entrusting his mother and his best friend to one another’s care, though, Jesus is showing us he has faith in us. He entrusts us to one another’s care and trusts that we will figure it all out and learn to do things the right way. He even points it out by calling his mother, “Woman.”

Two times in the Bible he calls his mother “Woman” instead of “Mother.” The first time is at the wedding at Cana when she goes to him and tells him the host and hostess are out of wine. He tells her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” Not exactly the way we’ve been taught to speak to our mothers, is it? But here at the cross, he does it again. “Woman, here is your son …”.

Both times, it’s not rudeness or cheekiness on his part. He’s referencing back to the beginning. Remember that he was there. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” He’s referencing the creation of man and woman. In Genesis 2, the second creation story, God makes Adam from the dust of the earth, and then makes Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. Adam responds to God by saying, “This at last is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.”

Adam was excited at first, but it doesn’t take long for that excitement to wane and the two of them to be tempted away from putting their full trust in God, ultimately disobeying him by eating the one fruit he told them to avoid. They start blaming, finger-pointing, and hiding from God, so I get our divisiveness and our penchant for trying to mold God into who we would have him to be naturally. We’ll call it genetic memory. At any rate, sin enters the world through the first Adam and Eve. Regardless, Eve is the “mother of all living” as stated in Genesis 3:20.

So now we come full circle to the cross where hangs the second Adam. Or to put it the way Paul does in 1 Corinthians 15:45, the first man … Adam … was from dust; the second man … Jesus … is from heaven. Jesus, the mind and spirit of God or as John puts it, the Word made flush in human form, will recapitulate what Adam did wrong, only to get it right this time. On the cross, he will rescue us from sin and death that the first Adam brought into the world.

And Jesus’ mother? Just as Eve, the mother of all living, played a significant role in bringing about what is known as “the fall” of humanity, Jesus’ mother, the one he calls “Woman,” will play a significant role in its redemption. She gives birth and life to Jesus, the one who saves us. It is she who propels Jesus into his public ministry there at the wedding in Cana when she responds to his comment not by arguing but by telling the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Her statement to those servants is something we should also heed by the way. “Just do whatever he tells us.”

And yet, there is still more to that statement … to Jesus entrusting his mother and his best friend to one another’s care. He begins the church … right there in that moment … he initiates the Beloved community. He could have said to the disciple, “Take her home to my brothers so she’ll be looked after.” But he doesn’t. He joins them together as a new family. A family of believers. And he trusts them to carry on in his place.

That’s what we are here at Union Grove including those of you worshipping with us online and what we’re all working to build … a new family … a family of believers. We know God has plans for Union Grove. We’ve witnessed his movement here. And we know he intends for it to continue. It’s up to us to continue to discern and carry out his plan according to HIS will.

That means we need to be patient. That means we need to get better at following those two commands … that we work at loving God that is and don’t fall into the trap of loving a god of our own design. And that gets easier if we remember that God is love – if it ain’t love, it ain’t God. And, we need to love one another and “another” means any other that walks through those doors, that we meet in the street or at the grocery store or over our back fence. Accepting, affirming, supporting, loving ALL … being a church where y’all really does mean all.

“Woman, here is your son … here is your mother.”

Brothers and sisters, here is your family.  


  • All works cited within the text above.

Copyright Disclaimer: Under §107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for educational purposes. No copyright infringement is intended. All rights belong to their respective owners.


  • Call to Worship – Rev. Val & Congregation
  • Hymn: This Is Our Father’s World (UMH 144)
  • Opening Prayer – Congregation
  • Creed: A Modern Affirmation (UMH 885)
  • Gloria Patri (UMH 70)
  • Peace Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Peace Hymn: Behold a Broken World (UMH 426)
  • Scripture Readings – Rev. Val
  • Message: Living Among the Brambles – Rev. Val
  • Hymn: God of Grace and God of Glory (UMH 577)
  • Pastoral Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Hymn: For the Bread Which You Have Broken (UMH 614)
  • Service of Holy Communion
  • Offertory Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Doxology (UMH 95/Song Sheet)
  • Benediction – Rev. Val

In order to expedite posting the worship services here on our website, we are reducing the transcript to just the scripture readings and the message. The majority of the other content (minus the message) is available through our weekly digital/email bulletin (you can sign up on our Contact Us page).  Union Grove UMC began celebrating Holy Communion weekly as part of our regular worship service on July 17, 2022. You are encouraged to have bread and juice or wine available as you watch the service and to participate in communion just as if you are present with us.


If you are able, please consider making an offering or paying your tithes through the online service provided by Holston Conference. It’s safe. It’s free. It will help us continue ministry at Union Grove. Just visit https://tithe.ly/give?c=4118449 and follow the instruction for making your offering. You may be prompted to create an account with them. There is no fee for the account or for making your offering through Tithe.ly. 

If you are not comfortable using a debit or credit card online, you can mail your offerings/tithes to:

Union Grove UMC
1151 Lane Drive
Friendsville, TN 37737

Please be sure to make your checks payable to “Union Grove UMC Friendsville“.