16 April 2006

He is Alive!!

Update: My BrickFriend has far more integrity than I do ... or maybe it's that he took more time and was more thoughtful about posting his piece. Nah ... he has more integrity. But I read his piece about Peter and realized that I need to update myself.

First ... for about half of Christendom, yesterday was Palm Sunday and this is now Holy Week and Easter will be next Sunday. It's sad, that within about 400 years of Jesus' death, his followers were already so divided that they just stopped worshipping together on the date of his death and resurrection. Almost immediately (in terms of eternity), they stopped following that mandatum novum do vobis (the new commandment to love one another). Note here ... I'm not indicating which group is correct. I'm just saying that the split occurred and it is sad.

Second ... the two readings that follow were written extra-Biblically. The first, about Mary Magdalene, was written by a friend of mine. She used some Biblical texts and some other information that is actually, factually known about Mary to construct this piece. However, no one knows what emotions Mary M. might have experienced as she followed Jesus and then witnessed the resurrection. She couldn't write and didn't leave us a journal. The piece on the Centurion was written by me. All I had were 3 sentences in the 3 synoptic gospel accounts of the crucifixion to go on. The rest is complete fiction, based on what I know to be true of the Roman army and about Judea at the time. So ... if you want to call that heresy, please do so in the quiet and peace of your own mind. They were written with the best of intentions to help our church family experience Jesus' resurrection during the Western traditional Easter Sunday.

Today I got to "be" Mary Magadalene ... in church.

My name is Miriam, though you know me better as Mary Magdalene. You wanted to know how my life was changed through my relationship with Jesus, the Christ. Freedom was His first gift to me. Self-respect, love, life. Those were His other gifts. How, you ask?
I lived in the fishing village of Magdala when I was taken over by evil. It doesn’t matter what I was doing or how it happened, but it did. Demons ARE real, and they were in me. I was imprisoned in my own body. They used my voice to speak their lies. They used my hands to commit their foul deeds.

And then one day Jesus came to town. I had heard rumors about this man who healed the sick, made the lame to walk, even cast out spirits. I wanted to see Him, hear Him, be touched by Him and healed. But those within me were afraid. They knew Jesus, and believed in Him and wanted to get away. I fought to get close enough to hear Jesus speaking to the crowds and to watch Him cure others of their afflictions. And then His eyes met mine, and the demons inside me shuddered. Suddenly, He cast them forth from me, and I was free. Free of their filth and lies. FREE!

I was so thankful. I felt I owed Him everything, because He had given my life back to me. So, I followed Him. I left the village behind and joined with the others who supported Him. We traveled together, learned from Him, were loved by Him, thought we understood this kingdom He proclaimed. What a journey it was—received with joy in one town, almost stoned in the next, and always Jesus’ great love and compassion reaching out to those in need.

He taught us a new way. He taught us not to worry about our next meal, new clothes, a place to sleep. He showed us love. He taught us to approach God for ourselves through prayer. He showed us forgiveness.

Then came the cross. The men fled in fear for their lives and hid. But no one paid attention to the women. Jesus had treated us as equals, but no one else did. So we stayed with Him and watched while He was crucified. We watched as Joseph gathered his courage and asked for His body. We followed to see the tomb where He was laid. We gathered spices and prepared them to anoint His body after the Sabbath. We waited and mourned the loss of our friend and king.

Near dawn the morning after the Sabbath, I went to the tomb with the other women to anoint Jesus’ body and change the burial linens. The tomb was open! Jesus’ body was gone! Confused, nearly mad with grief, we fell to the ground in terror when angels appeared and spoke to us. And we remembered. We remembered His words predicting His suffering and death, words that we had forgotten because we couldn’t, or wouldn’t, understand them. We wanted a conquering hero. We thought He was bringing an earthly kingdom.

The men didn’t believe us when we told them He was gone. They had to race to the tomb to see for themselves. They saw the open tomb and empty graveclothes, then turned and left us. I sat there weeping, not understanding why He was gone. The gardener came, and asked who I was looking for. I told him Jesus’ body was gone, and asked if the gardener knew where He had been taken.

Then came the voice I knew so well, calling my name. “Miriam!” I gasped, in joy and awe, hope and fear. Jesus was alive! How could this be? I turned to reach for Him, and He said “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” I thought my heart would burst. Jesus was alive! I ran to tell the others. He is risen! Jesus is alive!

Yes, I was there. Me. Miriam from Magdala, a woman from a little village on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. A nobody special from nowhere special. But a man named Jesus walked into my village one day, and rescued me from a living hell, and nothing was ever the same again…………….

LightHusband got to "be" the centurion who guarded Jesus on the cross and declared him the Son of God after he died ....

I am a Roman Centurion. I’ve given my life to the Empire. It’s been a good life and I’ve been proud to serve. But imagine my dismay when I was sent to this backwater desert land. Sent to guard these stubborn uneducated Hebrews. They are dirty and unkept. They refuse to acknowledge the Emperor as God. Stupid stupid stupid people.

I’ve wondered for these past three years what my crime was that I deserved this post. Jersusalem is a crowded dirty city with more Hebrews than ever. And during their feast times, it becomes unbearable. They refuse to acknowledge perfectly good Roman feast days; my favorite is for Dionysus. But for theirs, they flock to the city and live in their own filth for days on end. They refuse to build any of our improvements here ... baths, running water ... nothing.

I stand most days, bored, at my duty station. I’ve wanted nothing to do with this backwards people. I’ve dreamt of being back in Rome, Gaul, anywhere but this hot dirty back water. Lately, tho, I’ve been overhearing whispers about a new king. These tiny little fools. A king from here who can over throw the Emperor?! And it appears that he has a following of uneducated fishermen. They must be his advisors. Ha Ha Ha.

Last Sunday he arrived in town with all the glory these people can give a king. He rode on their most stately beast ... a donkey. Well, that fits. They were all gathered in the city for one of their feasts. I don’t remember which one. But after proclaiming this man king, then they screamed for his execution. I wonder why. My Lord Pilate could care less, like me, he just wants to get back to Rome and keep these people quiet. So he mollified them by granting their request. And sent the man to the cross. I was sent to guard him.

Til this point all went as it should. I had never come into contact with this man they called king. He did not look like any king I’d ever seen and certainly he was not going to over throw the Emperor, nor even My Lord Pilate. In any case, by the time we got to Golgotha he was almost dead. My subordinates nailed him and two thieves on their crosses. As usual, we threw lots to see who would get their robes. But .... I was beginning to be unsettled in my spirit. This man who would be king, was not like any man I had ever seen before.

I listened as one thief mocked him, but the other called him the Son of God. What was that? And then, in the middle of the day, just after he cried out to God as his Father, the sky became as black as night, but with no stars or moon for light. And then he called out, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit.” called his own death to him, and the light returned.

I tell you now ... He is the Son of God. I must find those followers and learn about what he taught. What have I missed?! I need to know this God, and His Son. I find my loyalties torn now. Who am I to follow? The Emperor/god or the true God? Can I do both? How do I do that? Should I give up this life I’ve known forever. Shall the hunter become the hunted? Join these people in this backwater? Whatever comes next I will be following God and I will walk in His footsteps.


Blogger Schuyler said...

Hey! I don't have integrity! YOU have integrity!

Oh, that's not an insult? Sorry!

Thanks for putting these up by the way.

4/17/2006 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Croghan said...

Sonja, thanks a lot for posting these.

4/17/2006 10:22:00 PM  

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