Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Time to Mourn

When I was first offered the part of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in my church’s Easter production, I instantly thought of dozens of reasons why I shouldn’t have that part.  I’m too young!  I can’t sing immediately after pretending to cry. And besides, I’m more inclined towards the happy, rejoicing parts, like Mary Magdeline at the resurrection! Surely someone else can do a better job, and surely there is a more fitting part for me. 

But for some reason, I couldn’t let it go, even when offered another part. After praying about it, I felt that this was, for some reason, the role I was meant to play. I accepted the part, and I began to learn the song, practice the staging, and contemplate how to put myself in Mary’s shoes.  

For the weeks and weeks of practices, I put myself in the role, cried at all the right times, and sang the song in an emotional, yet clear voice.  But I didn’t really get it. Not yet. In fact, even up through the dress rehearsals the day before and the day of the production, I was just acting. 

Yes, I know it was just a play, and I was supposed to be acting. But sometime during the final dress rehearsal and the two performances, an incredible transformation occurred in me. The tears, the sobs of anguish, and the groans of despair were not Mary’s, nor were they that of an actress just playing the part.  They were my own.  From the depths of my soul, I truly mourned my Savior’s agony and death. For a few moments, I was there.

In the days following the play and leading up to Good Friday, I have often been reminded of those incredible moments during the play, and of the remarkable, unfathomable love of my Savior. 

He didn’t have to stay there on that cross dying in excruciating pain. It was my cross, and he could have let me die. He didn’t have to take my sin upon his spotless, innocent soul and face the flames and agony of hell for me. But he did. 

Furthermore, since He is God and is outside the confines of time, the pain that he accepted, the separation from His father, and the wrath that he absorbed were not momentary, as our earthly trials are. They were, for him, forever.  A piece of him—like the nail marks in his hands and feet—remains eternally scarred by the price of his unimaginable love.  As Revelation says, He was slain from the foundation of the world.  And he is, though fully alive, slain even now. His death remains a part of him throughout eternity.

When I think of this, I am compelled to mourn. I need to mourn. Sometimes, all of us must take the time to mourn. In so doing, we can truly begin to grasp the depth of Christ’s love for us. I have been a Christ-follower since my very early youth, yet never have I so felt in my heart the richness of Christ’s love, never have I felt such deep and bitter loss, and never have I so anticipated the celebration of His resurrection, as now, having sobbed and wept and shivered with anguish at the foot of the cross. There is a time—and a reason to mourn.

Do not look away, my child
But gaze upon Him well
His face is love and agony
As Heav’n descends to hell

Oh! Do not hide your tearful eyes
From bloody nails or thorn
Look well upon the sacred wounds
Then bow your head to mourn 

Consider what has held him there
Though angels wait on call
His love has paid the bitter price
The ransom for us all

Look back, my child as he cries out
In loneliness and pain
The Father turns his face away
Let teardrops fall like rain

Yes, soon the resurrection comes
With joy no words can say
But for this moment watch and mourn
Remembering the day

Related post on the Crucifixion: The Last Words

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