O Lord, some might think these crazy people lined up for blocks in the rain to watch the Cubs or American Idol. It still makes me smile to know they waited to see the Marion, Indiana, Easter pageant. OMG, I know it makes You smile, too.
As a child, I loved new Easter shoes.
Well, new to me. My friend’s outgrown Mary Janes boasted slightly taller-than-average French heels.
My mother distrusted anything French except toast. “You’re too young for those!”
How could I wear winter-worn oxfords with my “new” dress?
Mom gave in. Eventually, she allowed glorious, pinchy-toe, high heels that made me walk like a camel.
St. Augustine probably passed on French heels, but when he abandoned his sensual, doubt-ridden life and was baptized, he donned special Easter shoes. Shoes that symbolized he would walk in the steps of Christ.
I walked in Jesus’ steps, too, in Galilee. Down to the Dead Sea. Up the Mount of Olives. Down to the Garden of Gethsemane.
That Man walked and walked!
Jesus didn’t wear Dr. Scholl’s® sandals as he traveled mountainous, unpaved roads through Scorpion City. He needed no Fitbit to calculate travel’s toll on His tired, bruised, filthy feet.
One woman poured thousand-dollar-per-ounce perfume on those feet and dried them with her hair.
Did Jesus’ disciples go overboard, too? Hardly. Instead, He pushed aside supper to wash their dirty feet — all 24, including Judas’.
Soon, His own were nailed to a cross as if they had no nerves. When Jesus appeared after His Resurrection, he showed the disciples His hands and feet, printed forever with His love for them.
His love for saints like Augustine.
For the child who in her Easter shoes glimpsed His gift of newness of life. For that child now turned Dr. Scholl’s® queen.
To all, Jesus shows His beautiful feet.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Did you know Jesus loves you, too?
O Lord, my narrow-minded calendar declares Easter is over and done. But OMG, for days afterward, the springtime world will shout out Your Resurrection! Alleluia!
This post first appeared on April 12, 2017.
For years, I celebrated holidays by directing church musicals. One fateful Easter, I chose Watch the Lamb, which focused on Jesus as the Lamb of God. A live lamb would make the ancient story come alive.
During rehearsals, the cast greeted our lamb with enthusiasm.
Church janitors did not. “Do something before that animal pees all over — or worse.”
Why hadn’t I considered this minor complication? Especially as the lamb made entrances down different aisles.
Most Passover lambs in 30 A.D. did not wear Pampers®.
What other option existed?
God provided the perfect solution: we would cover the stage and church aisles with the burlap-like backside of my recently discarded carpet.
However, God didn’t send angels to cut, arrange and duct tape the carpet throughout the sanctuary. After two unspiritual, aching-knee days, all my bases were covered. No worries now, right?
Loony the Lamb had his own ideas about entrances and exits. A hay bale helped keep him quiet, but for obvious reasons, we avoided feeding him too much.
The 60-member cast’s noise made Loony more nervous than your Aunt Nellie. Kids petted him without mercy. Bright lights and heat caused him to hyperventilate. During dress rehearsal, Loony the Lamb collapsed onstage in a wooly, quivering heap.
Watch the Lamb? No audience would want to watch this.
Two animal lovers carried the prostrate lamb outside while we prayed — and Loony recovered. One guy built a pen outside the stage door where our prima donna cropped grass between scenes. Visiting hours were restricted, with no autographs. We did everything but paint a star on Loony’s gate.
Thankfully, he showed no new signs of cardiac arrest. His brassy baaaaa erupted only once during performances — during solemn prayer after the crucifixion.
Our ingenious actors shifted and blocked escape routes, all the while looking very holy.
One child earned my special appreciation: “Loony was peein’ on my foot the whole time Jesus was on the cross, but I didn’t say nothin’.”
Even after Loony returned home, I couldn’t shake off sheep. Scriptures about lambs leaped from the Bible’s pages. Jesus frequently called his followers His sheep. After Watch the Lamb, I figured He didn’t mean it as a compliment.
Nevertheless, the King of Heaven volunteered to take on the title “Lamb of God.” It meant daily life with stupid sheep and deadly encounters with wolves in sheep’s clothing. What God in His right mind would do that?
Only a King who loves confused, clueless sheep more than His own life.
Even one dithery pageant director named Rachael — which, BTW, means “lamb.”
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever participated in a pageant/play that taught you more than you expected?
(The following includes the remainder of a fictional interview by first-century writer Caleb. Based on historical Gospel accounts, it takes place soon after Jesus of Nazareth’s execution. As Caleb conducts the interview, using a small tape recorder, Mary Magdalene’s sister, Huldah, stirs a huge pot of stew and occasionally yells at her children.)
Huldah: As I said, Daniel and I weren’t crazy about Mary’s being a groupie, trailing after this rock-star rabbi, Jesus. It’s not like she wasn’t already nutty as a fruitcake. But the more Mary hung with Jesus, the better she got.
We were grateful, though I worried about her reputation when she traveled with Jesus.
Mary thought that was funny. “Huldah, I don’t have a reputation to lose!”
Caleb: How did you feel about Jesus’ enemies?
Huldah: What do you think? I worried. Worried our rabbi would kick Mary out of the synagogue. That she’d get us kicked out, and our business would go bankrupt.
Caleb: What about the Romans’ reaction to Jesus and his followers?
Huldah: Duh! You know they also crucify women, if they’re in the mood.
But when Mary visited weekends, I’d never seen her so … peaceful.
Still, she worried about Jesus. He didn’t do anything wrong. He did everything right! But that didn’t earn him any brownie points. We came here to Jerusalem for Passover, but instead of celebrating, the whole town waited, as if expecting fire to fall. When we heard they’d crucified Jesus, we were scared Mary would hang on a cross next to him.
Caleb: What happened to her?
Huldah: Thank God, the Romans hadn’t harmed her. When Jesus died, we begged Mary to hide outside Jerusalem. But she wanted to help bury him.
Caleb: She’s still okay?
Huldah: I—I don’t know. Mary swears up and down she not only saw but talked to Jesus.
Caleb: She thinks a man survived crucifixion?
Huldah: Yes, she’s crazy happy. Others who claim they saw him are crazy happy. Maybe they’re all loonier than she was in the first place!
Huldah: I know, I know. Roman soldiers are good at their job. I saw Jesus die. Mary saw his followers put the body into a tomb. Yet she won’t back down. She can’t wait to see Jesus again.
Caleb: Um, Huldah, I want to put a positive spin on this. But you need to get Mary some help.
Huldah: If only she’ll come home with us — there she is! Talk to her. Wait. Who is that Man walking behind her?
Caleb: It can’t be —
Huldah: (screaming) Mary’s right! Jesus is alive!
(Caleb’s recorder plopped into the stewpot, and normally, an interview would have been lost forever. But this one, Caleb noted later, he would never forget.)
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: If you could talk to someone who saw Jesus after His Resurrection, who would it be?
(The following fictional interview by first-century writer Caleb is based on historical Gospel accounts, taking place soon after Jesus of Nazareth’s execution. As Caleb adjusts a small tape recorder, Mary Magdalene’s sister, Huldah, stirs a huge pot of stew.)
Caleb: Huldah, thanks for agreeing to talk with me about Mary.
Huldah: Yeah, yeah. People are saying crazy stuff, so maybe I can clear up a few rumors.
Caleb: To keep things straight for readers, we’re discussing Mary Magdalene.
Huldah: There are a million Marys running around. Mom and Dad gave her the popular name, of course. Leave that alone! (She waves a big spoon at the curious kid sneaking behind Caleb, then apologizes.) Sorry. I didn’t mean you.
Caleb: Um … no problem. You’re her older sister?
Huldah: Yeah, been looking out for Mary since forever. She was always different … then she started hearing voices. Saw stuff that wasn’t there. Got really mean. Our parents passed her around to relatives like she was a bad cold. Before they died, they made me promise to take care of her.
Caleb: Mary met Jesus, called the Christ, didn’t she?
Huldah: Yeah. She’d wandered off, out of her head. I said, “Good riddance!” Maybe Daniel and I could enjoy some peace. But we had to look for her. She’d joined those groupies following Jesus, the rock-star rabbi.
I said to Daniel, “Just great. Sounds like he runs a medicine show.”
Caleb: Upon seeing you, how did Mary react?
Huldah: Mary doesn’t hug anybody — she slugs ’em. But this time, she hugged me. Then she laughed! I couldn’t remember the last time I heard her laugh.
Caleb: I saw Jesus, maybe twice. Did you?
Huldah: Yeah. For a rock star, he wasn’t real good-lookin’. There was nothing special about Jesus, until he talked — and healed a leper who used to live next door.
I told Daniel, “I’ll take his brand of crazy, anytime.” Turns out, the more Mary was around Jesus, the better she got.
Caleb: Has she regressed since then?
Huldah: Well … you be the judge of that, after you hear the whole story.
To be continued tomorrow, April 25.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever considered what happened the week after Easter? And don’t you just hate “to be continued” stories?
No TGIF for Him
O my God, we all would like to vote some weeks off the calendar. On Monday morning, we’re already thinking weekend and TGIF. More than 2,000 years ago, though, there was no TGIF for Jesus. But OMG, thank You for TGIS!
We suffered through everlasting classes of English and arithmetic, drooling at the prize: a chocolate bunny with a yellow bow tie.
As we sallied forth to the playground, I dreamed of delectable treasures I would discover: yummy jelly beans (all but the black licorice kind), chocolate eggs, fat pink marshmallow chicks. Where would I conceal my Easter loot from my siblings?
The kiddie crowd’s roar at the starting point dissolved my blissful sugar fantasies. Only our omnipotent principal kept us from rioting.
He boomed, “Ready. Set. Go!”
A horde of barbarians, we attacked.
I could run fast. However, with zero sense of direction or strategy, I dashed randomly within the hunt’s borders — not unlike the way I now seek parking spaces — arriving just in time to see others grab the goodies.
I complained, loud and clear. Why did the Easter Bunny put us through such agony?
While I stood by the merry-go-round, debating the hunt’s constitutionality, two kids found a nest of pink, blue and yellow eggs under it.
I stomped across the playground — and smashed an egg left in plain sight.
By hunt’s end, I found only jelly beans. Black licorice ones.
Some did. I received more black jelly beans.
I survived Easter-egg-hunt trauma. You did, too. But as all grown-ups know, adulthood does not immunize us from empty-basket syndrome. After a steady diet of motivational speeches, we may improve our egg-finding techniques and even win a chocolate bunny or two. Often, though, we watch others celebrate success while we count black licorice jelly beans. And we ask God, “Why?”
To us empty-basket wonders, He says, “More than you can imagine. You don’t have to hunt for Me.
“Actually, I hunt for you. You’re the lost coin I treasure, the clueless, obstinate lamb I love — yes, I’ll even leave 99 winners to search for you, no matter where you wander. Stop fighting Me and let me hold you close.”
I still dream of finding the chocolate bunny with a yellow bow tie. But if I don’t, that’s okay.
My basket already runneth over with His love.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you consider yourself an empty-basket wonder?