Lots of memories dot the landscape of my life at this time of year. The occasional new dress and/or shoes. Rarely, chocolate candy of some sort. It wasn’t a huge gift-giving event when I was a kid. I knew some people did Easter baskets, but I don’t remember that happening at our house. Not complaining–didn’t feel deprived. Easter was always good.
When our kids were growing up, we dyed eggs and then Terry and I hid them in the yard. They always enjoyed the search. We always got them a milk chocolate bunny. Solid chocolate, mind you. The hollow ones were a cheat.
One of my favorite memories took place in 2000. My daughter and I had flown to Germany to visit Mike and Janan and their little girl. We were privileged to be in Oberammergau and to see the famous Passion Play that the town performs every ten years. It is amazing, If you ever have the opportunity, don’t miss it. It’s done in German, of course. They provide you with a translation book, but most of us know the story so well that it’s not hard to follow along.
The procession of Jesus into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, is amazing. Everyone in the town has some part, including animals: Pets, farm animals, sheep, and maybe even a camel if my memory serves. They come down the aisles, and people wave palm branches and call out “Hosanna!” It sounds pretty much the same in German as in English.
We saw all the scenes of that week, beautifully portrayed and acted. All the way through the trial, the scourging, the crucifixion, burial, and triumphant resurrection.
I’m sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
The music of Easter has always been as wonderful to me as Christmas music. I love the songs that we typically sing only at Easter.
One song in particular stays in my mind because it was my solo many years ago in John W. Peterson’s No Greater Love. The song is His Wonderful Look of Love. I didn’t sing it very well. I was so nervous, and the song was pitched just a bit too high for my very low alto voice. But it’s a wonderful song, meaningful and memorable. It concerns Peter and his denial, and his glance at Jesus, Who was watching him with eyes of love and compassion, and not condemnation.
I have tried to imagine what it must have been like to be with Jesus that week. Fear, confusion, physical exhaustion and despair must have cloaked His followers like a dark cloud. His closest followers, the twelve, all ran away in fear. At the cross itself, young John was there and received Jesus’ commission to care for His mother, Mary.
To call it the Passion Week is certainly fitting. After the procession into Jerusalem and the closeness of the Passover meal, things went south pretty quickly. And they became gruesome. That was pretty normal in the Roman scheme of things. They weren’t merciful people when they believed their Caesar was being insulted.
Not that the Jewish religious leaders objected. Jesus offended them, too. And people are still offended by Him today, because He said that He is the Life, the Truth, and The Way. No other way to heaven exists. This truth is so offensive to nonbelievers–and even to some who profess to believe–that the blood of true believers is still being shed after all these centuries.
No amount of bloodshed is going to destroy Him, though. It will not destroy His Word, and it will not destroy the faith of those who know that because they have come to Him for repentance, forgiveness, and salvation, they will die only to live forever in heaven.
And that’s what this coming week is all about.