I am no longer a member of one of the liturgical churches, those that celebrate a fixed order of service, and which have a church calendar divided into seasons with feasts, and fasts, and observations of holy days. I once was a member, as an adult Christian believer, of two of those denominations, however. Now, I'm a member of a high-commitment, non-denominational church, which accepts without reservation my marriage to my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant foxy praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, and I love my church, and would not change it. However, today I recall the power of prior years' spiritual preparation for Easter, as a formal part of the church calendar, and I miss that.
Strip away all the trappings; strip away the knowledge of what is to come, strip away even the convention that references to Deity are capitalized, and focus just on the devastating truth of today. Today we remember the nightmare horror of the brutal legal murder of a young man in front of his mother.
My first-born son is about Jesus' age. He's a lot like Jesus, too, in his charisma and his love for others. He, like Jesus, put his life on the line for others. Unlike Jesus, though, he did not have to pay the ultimate price; when the 155 mm rocket hit, he was not killed, just smashed into a concrete wall, suffering a brain trauma and a crippling knee injury. It's not the same, I know it's not the same. But it's what I have, it is my offering of love to Mary, Jesus' mother, when I think about what she went through on that Friday. Today, I have my firstborn son, and his beautiful wife, and their firstborn son, and soon I'm going over to their house to share a meal and a family time.
On that Friday, Mary watched her son die. Those sweet hands and feet that she had so often kissed when he was a baby were forced down on the rough wood of a cross, and mutilated by spikes. The back that she had stroked as she snuggled him close was bleeding from the lash. The hair that she had washed and brushed was crusted with his blood, and in place of the hands of blessing she had laid on him so often, a crown of thorns.
And a sword pierced her heart.
Mary, sweet Mary, obedient handmaiden of the Lord, how could you bear it? And when your boy, your strong young man, in the midst of dying, turned to you and John, and placed you in each others hands, did it make his death any easier, or just that much worse?
They had no call to put your boy to death, Mary. None whatsoever. They had no call to beat him, no call to mock him, no call to lay hands on him at all. You didn't deserve to have all of that thrown on you.
I have my son today, Mary. And when I see him, in just a few minutes, I'm going to hold him one second longer in an embrace that you could not give to your son on this day, not until his life was ended.
Sunday is coming, and without it, I would not be here. Probably none of us would.
But today is Good Friday, and today, I weep for Mary.