Tag Archives: Jesus

Interview: Mary Magdalene’s Sister (Part 2)

(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!

Caleb: Maybe?

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?

Interview: Mary Magdalene’s Sister

(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?

Christmas Aliens among Us

Beware! Christmas aliens lurk in malls, mega-stores and parking lots.

Unlike gargantuan monsters on big and small screens who spit purple slime, these unearthly creatures can enter a Walmart without so much as a raised eyebrow.

Like the rest of the local gift-seeking population, they are tall, short, and various shapes, colors and sizes. They may wear jeans and hoodies or polyester pantsuits with Christmas teddy bears pinned to lapels.

Their appearance does not betray their presence. Instead, be on the lookout for suspicious shopping behaviors.

These extraterrestrials don’t aim laser cannons at shopping districts or vaporize Santa and his elves at tree lightings. Still, they could destroy holiday traditions cherished by our culture for decades.

Outside Stores

  • Christmas aliens are betrayed by their driving behavior. They stop at stoplights. Yes, really. Some even halt at stop signs. A few actually allow drivers trapped in wrong lanes to go first.
  • Their parking lot behavior reveals even more sinister intentions. Instead of charging across the lot in a diagonal path, they drive in designated lanes.
  • Despite plentiful targets at crosswalks, they do not accelerate. What kind of Christmas spirit is that?
  • Some aliens skip convenient parking spaces, keeping them available for the elderly and expectant mothers.
  • Having corralled not one, but two truant shopping carts, they may even look The Salvation Army bell ringer in the eye as they enter.

What would happen if the entire population exhibited similar dangerous behavior?

Inside Stores

  • They break the First Commandment of Christmas Shopping: Instead of inflicting shopping trips on spouses and children as a punishment, they try to make them fun.
  • They also refrain from mugging store clerks when a size large or Baby Know-It-All can’t be found.
  • They retrieve items from top shelves for the vertically challenged.
  • They sing along with background Christmas Muzak. On key.
  • They procure private places for cell phone discussions about purchasing the jingle-bell boxer shorts.
  • They may even toss used paper towels into the restroom trash can instead of onto the floor.
  • At checkout, they say please and thank you. And find they purchased more for others than themselves.

All these are strong indications that aliens have mounted a major assault on Christmas shopping traditions we hold so dear.

Worse yet, they enact these with a smile.

A smile?

Everyone knows Christmas shopping and giving have nothing to do with smiling. After all, we are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. God knows, He never smiled while lying in the manger. When He healed a dying little girl. Or, watched a lame grandpa dance without his crutch.

Right?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you encountered a Christmas alien lately?

Look Out, I’m Pulling a Camper!

Pulling a camper is like being followed by a shadow that’s gained 2,000 pounds.

Sure, I’ve spelled my husband en route to nearby campgrounds. When straight roads send him to Lullaby Land, I save our lives by driving short stretches on state highways.

But brave roaring, dragon-like semis on interstates? Motorcycles whipping in and out of lanes at Star Wars speeds? Hans Solo, I’m not.

Especially as the rearview mirror is rendered useless.

My husband installed extended mirrors. However, they warn that reflected objects are closer than they appear.

That’s nice. Even humble, and I admire humility. But sorry, nice mirrors, when changing lanes, I want accuracy. And if up-close-and-personal encounters with construction barrels throw you off, I really don’t need views up my nostrils.

Especially when parking. We often need to stop for gas, food, and/or restrooms. Those paltry reasons pale, however, as we focus on more profound questions: Will we find a place to park the camper? Afterward, can we get out?

Once, as I contorted truck and camper in my 100th effort to leave a convenience store, Hubby lost all hope. “Will we spend the rest of our lives behind Kwickie Mart?”

Not exactly the retirement we’d envisioned.

I tried to console him: “Living on Little Debbie® cakes and beef jerky wouldn’t be so bad.”

My attempts scared traffic to a dead stop. A hundred yards away.

Thus, we finally left Kwickie Mart.

Hauling a camper never bores us. Once, while I was driving down South, purple-cloud giants charged us. They spit lightning and smothered us with avalanches of rain that drowned car taillights ahead. If I had risked pulling over, my flashers would have disappeared, blown out like candles.

Did I slow down? Not much. Storm or no storm, drivers who never drive less than 85 mph — on roads, shoulders and in parking lots — can be found everywhere. Even in easygoing Mississippi.

My prayer life shot up several notches.

Hubby’s, already flourishing, set new records.

Jesus took the wheel.

Afterward, when He had guided us to sunshine, Hubby tried to talk Jesus into taking all my shifts.

He smiled and said, no, we needed to grow in faith. Together.

Though Hubby still had theological doubts about Kwickie Mart experiences, and I struggled with mirror-nostril crises, we indeed have learned to depend on Jesus and each other. With His help, we and our 2,000-pound shadow return home, safe and sound.

We will hit the interstate again soon.

It’s only fair I give other drivers advance warning: Look out, I’ll be pulling a camper!

Prepare to grow in faith.

 

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever pulled a camper? Driven an RV?

Fall In!

I exert considerable energy to avoid store lines at Christmas, purchasing gifts while Rudolph is still reddening his nose on the beach.

Then, in December, I stumble through Walmart’s doors at 10:30 p.m. to escape lines. I won’t recall how I got there or that I parked my car at Lowe’s. But I’ll have plenty of time to search for it.

Many Americans, like me, despise standing in line — strange, as we spend our lives queuing up. During preschool years, we line up to bawl on Santa Claus’s lap. As elementary children, we form lines to go outside and inside. We broaden our horizons as adults, waiting in wedding reception and funeral home lines, queues at hotel desks and ballparks.

Even at church, we fear the potluck will run out of KFC before we reach the front. And will the sins of those at the head of confession lines rank higher than ours?

At best, we grit and bear it. At worst, we yak on phones.

Interestingly, people who declare there is no right or wrong morph into Moses when someone crosses a certain line: Thou Shalt Not Cut In. Businessmen, Harley riders and little old ladies all want to stone the criminal with Old Testament zeal.

Yet neither God nor OSHA has specified that we stand in lines. Why do this? Especially since we should be first. Always.

Part of the answer lies in our culture. Americans stand in line for the same reason we drive on the right, not the left; eat Kellogg’s Raisin Bran®, not blood pudding, for breakfast; and wear clothing in public — most of the time. It’s what we do.

But I like to think there are better reasons.

Bottom line, standing in line means we put others first.

Years ago, my husband and I entered a McDonald’s in Madrid, Spain. No lines formed at counters. Instead, customers rammed each other like football linemen. Hubby and I waited in vain for game’s end. Eventually, our hungry stomachs won. Readying elbows, we dove into the pack.

If only my elementary principal, Mrs. Talley, had arrived to tame us. If the ghost of my childhood Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Mamie Skeet — wearing her usual weird hat — had admonished us with Jesus’ Golden Rule, we might not have sold slivers of our souls for Big Macs.

Now I appreciate more than ever you who keep your elbows to yourself and wait patiently in line. And this December, if we allow others to go first, we will light up Christmas lines like the natal Star.

Mrs. Talley and Mrs. Skeet would be proud of us.

Jesus, too.

 

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What will you do while waiting in line this Christmas?