Deborah Suess

Suess

Greetings! Our names are Martha and Mary and we are responding to your recent email sent to Carpenterandfriends.org. Thank you for inquiring about Jesus’ “female disciples.” We are not only good friends with Jesus but are also blessed to be counted among his disciples.

So many folk think Jesus has only 12 and that they are all men. Wrong! Brother Matthew regularly reminds us of the time Jesus pointed at a large group of us disciples and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. If you are seeking to do God’s will — then you are my brother and sister and mother.”

It’s a good thing Jesus fully accepts women into the circle, otherwise he and the whole group would be a lot less comfortable. It is often we women who facilitate the travel, housing, food purchases etc., not only for our beloved Jesus but for the entire troupe of his friends and followers.

The two of us (as well as Laz our brother) initially got to know Jesus & Co through our Airbnb business that we lovingly call M & M’s Place. We felt pretty lucky the first time Jesus chose to stay with us because he’s got some very specific requirements. Any home he chooses needs to be:

1. Locally owned.

2. Located in what some folk call a “mixed” neighborhood — that is a neighborhood that welcomes people of all colors, creeds, abilities, orientations, rich, poor and in between.

3. Large enough to accommodate their dining table (including several extensions) in order to serve whomever shows up for a meal. (When Jesus first told us that he welcomes all to the table, we assumed he was speaking metaphorically. We were mistaken!)

4. On the bus line. Not sure if Jesus is just that “green” or maybe he doesn’t trust local drivers. (Why don’t they use their turn signals anyway?)

While we women are fully integrated into Jesus’ outreach ministry and while we are regularly out there with others preaching, praying, pastoring and protesting as well as advocating for those on the margins. We also love spending dedicated time together as women. We call ourselves “The Midwives” (you can figure out why) and our sessions generally include sharing a glass of wine at the local watering hole.

We call it “communion” for that is exactly what we share together. Of course, every time Mary (Jesus’ mom) takes her fist sip of Merlot, we have to hear how no wine ever measures up to what her son can make. And then there’s the pictures — Jesus as a cuddly baby, Jesus the adventurous toddler and Jesus the teenager attempting to grow his first beard.

We all give Mary a hard time about being such a proud mama but we also surround her with loving care and prayers knowing she is deeply worried for the safety of her eldest child. We try to avoid minimizing her fears for they are legitimate. After all, Jesus is constantly challenging folk (especially the religious leaders) regarding what it truly means to love justice, do mercy and walk humbly with God.

The more attention he garners on national television, Facebook, twitter etc … the more Mary worries about him. We are all aware that his “speaking truth to power” is making life dangerous not only for him but for all of us. Mary regularly pleads with her son to hire a bodyguard, and Jesus’ response is always the same: “Thank you, Mom, for your concern, and I am so sorry you worry about me. But there will be no guns, no guards.”

So our time together as women disciples is often rather intense, but we laugh a whole lot too and continually find reasons to celebrate. Several among us have had babies or grandbabies born in the last two years. Some of us have retired from our full-time jobs and are freed up to support this growing ministry in new ways. The companionship we experience as women together is so very precious. Yet, on the rare occasion when Jesus shows up and gingerly asks if he can join us, we almost always say yes. After all he’s been known to turn water into the most excellent wine.

Deborah Suess is involved with a variety of interim ministry work. She retired in 2017 as the pastor of First Friends Meeting, where she was the first woman called to be a full-time minister since its founding in 1890.

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