Good Friday Sermon : April 14, 2017 : Mary
What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
Who could’ve known when we sang that song so early on? Who could’ve known on that dark night in the stable, that smelly grotto crowded with shepherds, magicians and angels? I was so young, what did I know? When I gave birth to him I thought having a baby was the most difficult thing I could do. I didn’t know about losing him…I never thought I would really lose him.
My name is Mary. I held him. I was the first to hold him. I held him at the last…when I finally could. I loved him, I stayed right there with him, to the end…. I love him, my son.
I lost him on this day. Like any anniversary it’s good to remember, remember as we can.
I like to talk about him…. I like hearing other people say his name.
It’s helpful to still laugh, and it’s still a strange discovery to find that I can laugh. There was a time I was certain I would never smile again. Laughter was the furthest thing from my being. A sword had indeed pierced my own heart. That was what Simeon told me. That’s one of my earliest memories of Jesus. After the shepherds, of course, those magicians, stories of angels and, uhg, that bright star that kept us awake for days… I remember that we made our way to Jerusalem so that I could be renewed after giving birth and to offer my first born boy to God with a sacrifice of these two small birds. We walked into the Temple trying to figure out where to go. That’s when this old man and old woman, both wanted to hold Jesus. It was the first time I let strangers outside the family hold him. They were old, holy, Temple people, Simeon and Anna, so, nervous as I was, I thought they could provide my son with a blessing. They both had wild prophecies about what he would grow up to do and be. Simeon said a sword would pierce my heart. It’s helpful to think back on that, to remember those early warnings and their prophecies, but nothing, nothing really could have prepared me for the pain.
There was that other time we went to Jerusalem…this is the story of the first time I thought I lost him…Jesus was 12. We had gone to Jerusalem as a family, lots of us, for the Passover, the festival. When we left I thought my cousin had him. At the end of that first day out I was sick. He was missing. Nobody had seen him! I couldn’t find my own kid. I’d lost him. I was sick, angry, frustrated, worried. I tried not to think about the slave traders who raid caravans by picking off straggling children. I had failed to protect my son. I had failed my son. I had failed my God. We found him. In God’s mercy my worst fears fell away when I saw him. We got back to the city and there he was, almost where we’d seen him last, and just as casual as you please talking Torah with the teachers! I couldn’t decide whether to kill him or kiss him. Both, of course. He was wise beyond his years, wise. I know all parents say that, our kid is special, but I’m allowed, I’m his mother…
I know many came to listen to him, he taught lots of people. But know this, before you listened to him, I listened to his stories…
And I made him listen to mine.
There were days he made me so crazy, I wanted to just …. Of course, without him around it’s hard to remember how angry I used to get…
Then there is today… the awful anniversary…I remember not being able to hold him, barely see him, and when I finally did I thought, that’s my baby! I told myself that’s not him, that’s some criminal, that bloody, that covered in…he was so bruised, he was so weak. I kept saying, no that’s not him, they’re going to release him. This is all a bad dream, the people loved him, at least, they seemed to. Now I don’t know who all these people were, shouting at my boy. That’s not him, I said to myself. That’s not him, I wanted to say to them. But I couldn’t speak. I just remember my mouth wide open, this sound coming from somewhere deep inside of me. I just kept trying to get near him in the crowd and the guards, just trying to keep my pain filled eyes open enough to see him and keep moving to him. I forget who was holding me, keeping me moving with the crowd towards him. Mary? Joanna? That young disciple who came to get me, the one who came to give me the news. He never left me, he never left my side. When we got outside the gates of the city, I froze then and there. I became numb.
The hours dragged on…
I know that Jesus was born for a purpose and I don’t understand all of it. This is not why I agreed to give birth to him! We both love him. Could we not have had him a few more years? Could there not have been an easier way. Why is death so painful? I would gladly share it with him, share any part of it. Could I not have just a moment to tell him how much I love him?
At some point I wanted him to die
I felt guilty to want to keep him
I felt guilty to let him go
I felt guilty exhaustion
God you have to be with him. Be with us. I can’t do this alone. We can’t do this alone.
I know you are here. We know you are here.
I prayed for his death
I knew it was time
I gave birth to you but I’m willing to release you to God
“My Lord and My God”
When I’m done I want to be able to let go too
My name is Mary. I held him. I held him first. I held him at the last…when I finally could. I loved him, I stayed right there with him, to the end. I love him, my son.
You are my Lord and my God.
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary.