Sunday, April 4, 2010

Meaningful Easter...

This Good Friday, our church put on its first-ever Easter Pageant (at least since I've been there). It was a gigantic undertaking for a not-huge church, and there were times we wondered whether we would pull it off. We should have known better. With all the prayer we had going for us, it had to be a success, and it was.

Despite thunderstorms, the auditorium was packed, and the audience overflowed into the fellowship hall to watch by closed-circuit TV. According to one attendee, they were transported back to ancient Israel. I know I was.

When our minister of music asked me, a month into rehearsals, to take on the part of Jesus' mother Mary, I was honored that he thought I could handle it. I'd missed the previous practices due to Mom's & my getting sick after Christmas and taking a while to recover. When I went online looking for a similar version to the solo, I saw some impressive talent. "The Day He Wore My Crown" is a beautiful, poignant song. How many times have we known that Jesus was crucified in our place, but never stopped to consider that crown of thorns should have been placed on our heads? It gave me real cause to think.

It also gave me a lot of trouble. Once I put myself in Mary's sandals, I couldn't sing it. During Holy Week, we think of Jesus' passion and suffering, but don't often think of the pain his mother endured. I know I hadn't thought about that aspect. I thought about his disciples, his friends, about the Lord Himself, but not about His mother and how she must have recalled Simeon's telling her "a sword will pierce thine own soul also."

It took me a long time just to be able to sing along with the soundtrack. I'd get so far, and then the enormity of the words would hit me, and I'd break down. At last, I got to where I could sing it with the choir backing me up.

Then we practiced the music for the first time with our Jesus singing with us. We sang "Behold the Lamb" as he stood there fastened to the cross in jeans and a t-shirt. For the first time, he spoke the words uttered so long ago in another language: "Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit. It is finished." My musical cue came. I walked downstage, opened my mouth, and burst into tears.

Despite no one's being in costume, the reality of what we were doing pierced my soul. Jesus was crucified for me. He did wear my crown. And He would have done it if I'd been the only sinner ever born. What we represented really did happen in ancient Judea. Jesus really died. Really was buried. Really rose again in a body like we can't imagine on that Sunday morning. Really is coming again to reign for a thousand years before the earth is made new.

I asked for, and received, prayer, and I got through the song, not only that first proper rehearsal, but all the subsequent ones, and our Good Friday presentation. That's not to say I didn't cry. If I hadn't cried, if that song, meaning what it did, hadn't brought me to tears, if I hadn't been so touched by it, neither would anyone else.

So, as Holy Week draws to a close, ask yourself whether you've ever personalized what Jesus did for you. If you haven't, can you think of a better time than now? After all, the present is all we have.

Photo by Kathleen C. Davis, (c) 2010