"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Name is Mary

I love the Lenten and Easter seasons. There is just so much rich stuff that goes on in the Christian life during that time. Of course, Lent begins with the imposition of ashes on the forehead as I am told that my life is really worth nothing. I come from ashes and to ashes I will return. Always a somber thought. And so the journey to the cross begins and lasts for 40 days. Though life resumes its normalcy, there remains for me an underlying current of this journey. It's like it's present with me as there remains a different feel to my life during those days.

Though we continue to meet as a church body, the next related event doesn't happen until a number of weeks later when we celebrate Jesus' triumphant entry into the city. We call it Palm Sunday. It's always a joyful part of the journey as the children march in with their palm branches. This year I caught a sudden movement out of the corner of my eye as a couple of the little ones passed by the piano where I sat playing. I swear I thought my little nephew wacked the head of the child in front of him with his branch. Come to find out, he did.

Later in the week, we gather for Maundy Thursday and communion, celebrating and remembering the final evening Jesus spent with His disciples, the institution of the Lord's supper, the betrayal and arrest. What a powerful imagery it is when the sanctuary is stripped of all its ornaments and adorned in nothing but black. In my oldest son's church, he said the robe was even removed from the minister which brought a greater element of imagery. Personally, the most powerful moment for me is when the candle is snuffed -- and all goes black. The Light of the World is extinquished. What darkness. What hopelessness.

There have been times I've gathered for Good Friday services when each "word" of Jesus as He hung on the cross was used as a meditation. What a meaningful time to enter into the suffering of our Lord Jesus -- and just remember the passion.

Then there's Saturday. I can remember even as a little girl that day of waiting. That day of heaviness. That day of ... expectation.

And then Resurrection morning arrives and my favorite time of all occurs. No, it's not the gathering of God's people to celebrate. It's not the new Easter clothes. It's not the shouting of "He is risen indeed" at the sunrise service (though I admit that's a close second). It's not the Easter lilies after a time of darkness. It's not even the singing of "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," even though all of these bring such joy and celebration. My favorite part of the whole thing is the journey itself to the sunrise service early in the morning while it's still dark. For just a moment, I get to play Mary. But unlike that Mary, this "Mary" already knows what she'll find at the end of her dark journey.

An empty tomb.

Praise You, Lord! YOU ARE RISEN INDEED!!!!!