CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

March 22, 2008

SHALOM! MY LORD AND MY GOD! The Easter Story as told by Mary


CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

SHALOM! MY LORD AND MY GOD!

The Easter Story as told by Mary

COME, GATHER ‘ROUND ME, YOUNG AND OLD:
THE EASTER STORY WILL BE TOLD!

     In long, long ago times, a special baby was born.
I’d love to share that birth story with you—the miracle of birth itself, the struggles, hopes and dreams of and for this special baby—but that is the Christmas story.
We are here today to hear the Easter story.
Not the story about

 the Easter bunny, a modern day myth used by marketers to sell you their wares! But the one about God’s son, the child born at Christmas, the child who came to fulfill Old Testament prophecies.
It’s a story about a young man—now, young is relative. At fifteen, thirty is ancient. On my side of the fence, thirty is mere youth!
Thirty is an important age in Biblical tradition. Priests began their temple service at that age. This meant Jesus’ thirtieth birthday was special. It was his “coming out” birthday, the date when he could legitimately begin preaching. Kind of like turning 21 in today’s world.
He small, non-descript Jew, a man who had a powerful aura. The word we use today is charisma. There was something about this man that drew people to him.
I’d like to tell this story from Jesus’ mother’s eyes, so…I did a “mock” interview with Mary, an elderly woman, perhaps around 80 years old. An age when she was able to view the events of the past through the passage of time.
According to Mary, Jesus was an exceptional child with an unusually deep understanding of life.
“While helping his father, in the workshop,” she said, “Jesus asked such difficult questions that Joseph had to consult with the rabbis in order to answer them. And Jesus wouldn’t settle for any superficial answers.”
Mary told about a memorable Passover trip to Jerusalem. Their family went to celebrate, pray, and join in the festivities. Jesus was twelve, the age of accountability.
“Jesus never gave us any trouble, so when we started home we assumed he was with us,” said Mary. “We’d traveled a whole day before realizing he wasn’t. When we couldn’t find him among our friends and relatives, I became frightened, so Joseph and I returned to Jerusalem to look for him. I was so worried. Maybe he was hurt, laying in a ditch somewhere, and no one was willing to help him. And I wasn’t there to help him, either!
“We finally found him. At the temple! I tried to discipline him, but was so relieved at finding him safe I could only ask him why he had treated us so disrespectfully. His response shook me to the bones!”
What did he say? I asked.
“He asked, ‘Why did you search all over for me? You should have known where I was!’”
I asked Mary about Jesus’ first miracle.
“Oh, yes,” she said. “We had gone to this marvelous wedding. Everyone was there! And they ran out of wine at the reception,” she explained. “I knew Jesus was our only hope. But he reproached me, telling me his time had not yet come.
“I didn’t know what he meant by ‘his time.” I only knew that I had come to depend on him when there was a problem. He always found a solution.
“I told the servants to follow Jesus’ instructions. I don’t know what he did, but the wind he arranged for was far better than the wine they had served earlier in the day!
“Soon after the wedding, we celebrated his thirtieth birthday. What a day! He told me his time had come to fulfill his destiny, to obey his God.
“It broke my heart as I watched him leave. What did he mean, ‘the time had come?’ I was puzzled.
“I had to remind myself: his birth was so unusual and special. He wasn’t really MY child. He belonged to God!
“I was consoled knowing he was doing God’s work. Oh, but I did worry. He was still my child!
“I relied on my faith that he would be OK. And I constantly prayed for him.”
Mary didn’t see much of Jesus after he left home.
“One time, he returned to Galilee,” she said. “When he taught at the synagogue on the Sabbath, he was treated very disrespectfully. He told me as he left, ‘a prophet is not without honor except in his own country.’”
Mary said she occasionally traveled to where Jesus was preaching and teaching.
“I always stayed in the background, not wanting to interfere with his work.
“Once, when he was preaching to a big crowd, someone told him his brothers and I were there, waiting to speak to him.
“He stretched out his hands and told them, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’
“I couldn’t help but be a mite bit hurt, but deep down I realized he was God’s child, doing God’s work.”
Some stories trickled back to Mary about Jesus; others she only heard about after his death. Her eyes glowed as she told me about his healing a blind man, the ten lepers and a troubled woman. She told of his feeding five thousand people with only five loaves and two fish. Mary laughed when she told me about his changing demons to pigs, which then ran off a cliff into the ocean.
She spoke of Jesus’ gentleness and service to the people he met, and of his special love for little children.
Mary was a proud mother! Yet she knew there were controversies about her son.
“The Pharisees always taunted him,” she said. “They would ask him what they considered were trick questions. Once they questioned him about the disciples not washing their hands before a meal.
“He answered them with a question. ‘Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?’
“Then he told them it isn’t what goes into the mouth that makes you dirty, but what comes out of your mouth.”
It was only later that Mary knew the full story of the events during the last week of her son’s life.
“The weekend before his death he was with three of his closest friends in Bethany,” she said. “Then, six days before his crucifixion he was so honored. He was treated as a hero, riding a donkey as he entered Jerusalem. People yelled to him and waved palm branches, and placed their cloaks on the road, in recognition of his astonishing power.
“People were there whom he had healed and taught! People whose hearts had been changed. His true followers.
“Some onlookers, however, had different reasons for being there.
“Political activists wanted Jesus to use his ‘supernatural’ power to free Israel from Roman rule. Others wanted healing. Some were just hanging out, needing something to do.
“Then I heard Jesus showed a rare moment of anger when he arrived at the temple in Jerusalem. He was outraged at the injustice of vendors using the temple courts to oppress the poor. As he overturned the merchants’ tables, he told them ‘It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of thieves!’
“The next day, Jesus taught from early morning to lat night. I really liked the parables I heard he told, the ones of the talents and the wedding banquet.
“My son also taught about the greatest commandment—‘You should love God with all your heart, soul and mind, and you should love your neighbor as yourself.”
Someone told Mary about the strange happening at Simon the leper’s home.
“An unknown woman came in and poured some very expensive perfume on his head. He told the disciples she was preparing him for burial. Then he had his last meal with his disciples in celebration of Passover. He showed them how to remember him. The bread he shared was his body, and the wine in the cup was the blood of the covenant.
“But Jesus knew Judas would betray him. Even so, when he arose after eating his meal, and washed his disciple’ feet, he included Judas. Then he sent Judas away to tell the authorities where to find him.
Following the meal, Jesus and the disciples went to the Mount of Olives. There Jesus accurately predicted his disciples would abandon him. Next they all went to the garden at Gethsemane, where Jesus went off alone to talk to his father, according to Mary.
“I heard he asked for his cup to be taken from him,” she continued. “But then my son yielded to God’s will.”
When he finished praying, he found his disciples sleeping, not keeping watch.
“While he was rebuking them, Judas returned with the authorities, and identified my son by kissing him on the cheek. Then they arrested my son!
“Later, realizing his sin, Judas became so distraught he hung himself!
“Jesus was taken before the high priest, Caiaphaas, and Caiaphas’ father-in-law, Annas, for questioning. But when they accused him, he didn’t defend himself. Caiaphas finally said, ‘Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.’
“My son answered, ‘It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven’”
Mary said that Caiaphas declared “Blaspheme!” in response to Jesus’ answer.
“The next morning they bound Jesus and took him to Governor Pontius Pilate,” Mary continued. “Pilate claimed there was nothing criminal about Jesus. He told the Jews to judge him according to their own law.
“But the Jews were out for blood. Because they didn’t have the legal right to execute anybody, they cried for Pilate to release another prisoner and execute Jesus in his stead.
“Pilate caved in to the crowd. He washed his hands of Jesus’ blood as he released Barrabas.
Mary paused, having difficulty continuing.
“I watched them make Jesus carry his own cross to Golgotha,” she said softly. “When he just couldn’t carry it further, they pulled a man named Simon out of the crowd to carry it for him.
“At Golgotha, they dressed him in a robe and a crown of thorns. Adding further insult, they placed a sign on his head saying ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.
“Before nailing him on the cross, they removed his robe. Soldiers took it, and while he was being crucified, they cast lots on it.
Mary was shaking now, and her tears were overflowing.
“It was unbearable, seeing my innocent son, who only wanted to bring God’s Kingdom to earth, have spikes pounded into his hands and feet. I pretty near collapsed as they mocked my son, daring him to save himself. But one of the two thieves on the crosses beside him understood who he was and repented.
“At one point, in the midst of his pain, he spotted me with a disciple,” Mary said. He called out, “Woman, behold thy son!’ Then he told his disciple, ‘Behold, thy mother.’ From then on the disciple took me into his home, and made it mine, too. Jesus showed such love for me!”
Mary paused again, remembering.
“Suddenly, in the sixth hour, a strange darkness, like midnight without stars, descended. It stayed that way until the ninth hour, when my son, my precious son, Jesus, cried out, ‘Eli Eli, lama sagachthani?’ (My God My God, why have you forsaken me?)
“Jesus accepted the executioners offer of vinegar with hyssop, then he cried out again, ‘It is finished! Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
“At that moment the curtain of the temple split into two pieces, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and rocks split. It was so frightening! Tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. The centurion and others who were guarding Jesus were terrified, and called out ‘Surely he was the son of God’ But suddenly, a peace descended over me, and I realized Jesus was right—God was in charge, and everything would work out.”
But the story wasn’t finished.
“Then Joseph from Arimathea asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. He took it and tenderly wrapped it in a clean linen cloth before placing it in his own new tomb that was cut from a rock. Then he rolled a big stone in front and left.
“The next day the chief priests and Pharisees approached Pilate again. They wanted to seal the tomb and post a guard, thinking someone might try to remove Jesus’ body to deceive his followers! The were remembering that Jesus had said he would rise from the dead in three days, and they wanted to end Jesus’ work by proving him a fraud.
By this time Mary was tiring, and had to lean back, closing her eyes for a few minutes in an attempt to regain her energy.
“After the Sabbath day,” she continued, “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb. When they arrived there was a violent earthquake. An angel appeared from heaven and rolled back the stone that sealed the tomb.
“The angel told the women not to be afraid, that Jesus had risen from the dead. They should leave and go into Galilee. He would meet them along the road.
‘The left, being afraid yet joy-filled.
“Suddenly, they saw Jesus! After their ecstatic meeting, he told them to go tell the disciples what they had seen.
“That evening, Jesus stood among all the disciples, except Thomas, and said, ‘Peace be with you.’
“Thomas heard what happened. He was pretty doubtful. But when he was with the disciples a week later, Jesus showed up again, and told Thomas to put his fingers in the nail homes on his hands, and the hole in his side.
“Finally, Thomas believed, shouting out, ‘My Lord and My God.’
Mary’s face, filled with the wrinkles of age, shone. She told me it wouldn’t be too long before she would be reunited with her son, Jesus, that she wasn’t afraid of that final journey and was even looking forward to it.
The interview ended, I kissed each of Mary’s wet cheeks. She looked directly in my eyes and said, “We all should believe! We all should cry out ‘My Lord and My God!”

     She had told her story, which confirmed the many details handed down through the decades by Jesus’ disciples and other eyewitnesses. This was the greatest interview of my journalistic career!
HAPPY EASTER! May the grace of God go with you as you celebrate the risen Lord!

DEVOTIONS:

ARE YOU LIVING IMPAIRED?

BUSY—I’M SO BUSY!!! Lent Devotion #28

Ashes to Ashes: A Devotion for Ash Wednesday

SITE LINKS:

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www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com

www.barbarapurbaugh.com

www.pennwriters.com

ellenspain.com

http://ligonierliving.blogspot.com/

http://www.methodists-care.org/

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3 Comments »

  1. […] SHALOM! MY LORD AND MY GOD! The Easter Story as told by Mary […]

    Pingback by Rethink Church Lenten Photos Week 5 | Carolyn's Online Magazine — March 19, 2015 @ 1:40 am | Reply

  2. […] SHALOM! MY LORD AND MY GOD! The Easter Story as told by Mary […]

    Pingback by Palm Sunday: A Disciple’s Point of View | Carolyn's Online Magazine — March 29, 2015 @ 1:03 am | Reply

  3. […] SHALOM! MY LORD AND MY GOD! The Easter Story as told by Mary […]

    Pingback by Holiday time. Company’s Coming. Time to Clean! | Carolyn's Online Magazine — April 3, 2015 @ 3:45 pm | Reply


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