Summary: Lenten series on characters at the cross

We Were There -

Mary, The Mother Of Jesus

Bible Reading:

John 19: 16b - 27






Belong here, and you are a member of one of life’s painfilled communities. It’s a select group - with one of the most painful rites of passage imaginable. To enter the gates of this fellowship you need to experience something terribly unnatural. We watched Mary enter those gates as she experienced the death of a child.

The fellowship of bereaved parents.

How unnatural!

Those of you who have experienced this know what I mean.

Children are supposed to bury their parents.

Not the other way around.

The word comes - "You’re going to have a baby."

And immediately hopes, dreams, expectations begin to grow inside, along with that child.

What will they look like?

What will their personality be?

What will they accomplish?

What experiences will we share with them?

Generally, over time, parents get answers to those questions.

But not always.

Sometimes, in miscarriage, the child’s soul is heaven-bound before a day outside of mother.

Sometimes, only weeks or months.

Sometimes the answers begin to come and are, because of accident or illness, abruptly cut short.


......ah, the pain in experiencing it. Years later it hangs with you.

So many of you know that. I was talking with someone from Tubman Funeral Home earlier this week who shared how recently they held a memorial service for a child still-born at 27 weeks gestation – and did the service some 28 years after the fact; a service that the parents didn’t want 28 years ago, but now found very healing.

- the memories stay.

What if......

What could have been.....

What would have filled those empty album pages.......

Oh, Mary - the pain you experienced!

Not only in the grief of bereavement.

Also in the horrific nightmare of abuse and torture.

Parents’ greatest instinct is to protect their children.

How often I have sat with even an aged parent, concerned about an ill or suffering child, and heard the sentiment, "How I wish that I could be ill.... that I could face the operation....... instead of my child."

Want to endure the rage of a parent? Speak ill of their child within earshot. Treat the child badly. Lay a hand on the youngster.

Oh, Mary - that your first born son not only had to die – but this way?

The abuse.

The torture.

The humiliation.

You experienced it, hour after long dark hour.

Ripped so from your arms.

When the angel Gabriel came to you, Mary, what did you envision for the future of the favored one of the Lord?

When told that you will, in miracle ways, conceive a son, a great son, a son destined to sit on a throne, could you have envisioned a throne made of two rough cross members?

Ah, the words of the old man Simeon, spoken 33 years earlier in the temple, before your hair turned gray, before the wrinkles came and your youthful hands became work-worn and calloused, while Joseph still lived:

"This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel....- and a sword will pierce your own soul too."

How could you have expected it would be this way?

That the good-byes you said would have to be at a distance.

You couldn’t even hold his hand to comfort him.

Your arms are empty.

You are given into the caring, step-son arms of the beloved John.

Whirling memories, no doubt, of wise men and shepherds, living in Egyptian exile, learning experiences in the wood shop, teen age miscommunication in the temple, sermons from this carpenter-turned-preacher, the miracles.

And now......

now it’s all coming to this black, confusing end. A nightmare.

I can only imagine the haunting hollow look in your eyes as you stood at the cross with empty hands, a broken heart and shattered dreams.

Mary -

Your pain! Your loss!

Resonating with the pain and loss that so many of us feel.

It’s true, isn’t it?

If your heart is pained this morning, chances are it’s because of the resonance with what Mary experienced.

Perhaps not on a public garbage heap known as place of the skull, the heap named Golgotha.

Perhaps not there.

But your own nightmare.

When the doctor came out of the operating room with that sombre look.

When the phone rang in the middle of the night.......... or never rang.

When the labour started, in spite of the medication and rest.

When the judge’s gavel came down.

The bible details Mary’s loss.

Her scene make others flash before our eyes.

Her note of grief resonates with dark notes deep within our soul.

The "goodbye" in your life never answered;

The dream shattered;

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