Friday, April 6, 2012

At First Light Days 20 & 21: A Kiss At Calvary

I have imagined it many times.
Especially as a teenager, on Easter Sunday, nestled in a pew between my brothers and sister.
I close my eyes tight and picture it there on the hill.

The cross.

I wonder, what would it feel like to be there, peering up at the carved out tree. To bravely move toward it and not be able to control my need to reach up. To touch the bottom of the cross.  Fingering with my own hands the splinters He was feeling against his back. To see Him hanging there. Punctured and barely breathing. Sweating. Grimacing in unspoken pain. A Savior draped between two thieves.
My heart beats faster just trying to put myself there.
To watch him willingly surrender with each gulp of air.

To take in His sacrifice.
His cross.

This afternoon I caught a glimpse.
A glimpse so moving, so profound
that I pray the image will
remain with me until I meet Him face to face.

I felt a call to head there at three past noon, the hour of His death, even though this day has been busy. Really busy. It didn't make sense to go. We hosted an early morning Birthday party, wrestled a 17-month old at his well visit, got the bags packed for a holiday weekend. A friend, I now call her a sister, told me about this service and I felt a nudge, a quiet whisper from the Advocate who resides inside my heart. Go Jodi. Just go. How beautiful and how our God blesses our lives when we respond to the voice
that is one with His.

We went as a family, not really knowing what we were going to do. It's Good Friday, I told the girls, 
I'm sure we will focus on the death of Christ.

When we entered through the side door I looked up at the familiar scene. A barrage of a starry painted sky, the same image I saw when I walked down the aisle on my wedding day. Standing room only.

 The five of us huddled together in the back.
We shifted side to side. 
We couldn't see the altar.
The kids were restless. The baby was babbling.
Lilli had to go to the bathroom. Lacey was dangling on my hip, constantly giving my cheek wet kisses. I closed my eyes to listen.  Surrounded by strangers, I hung on every word of the Gospel of John. I got chills as I heard the story of  Christ's eternal gift.  I relived The Passion.

If it had stopped right there,
our trip would have been worth it.
But there was more.

An unexpectant invitation.

Not just to ponder the Passion, but to touch His Cross.
To silently make our way to the front, heads down in prayer.
 To kneel down and place our lips at His feet.

 Different voices solemnly read aloud
the seven last words Jesus uttered at Calvary.

"Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." Lk. 23: 34

As I walked up, I pulled Lacey closer to my chest.
 She wrapped her little arms and legs around me.

"Where are we doing Mama?" she whispered.

I chocked back my answer. 
"We are walking up to the altar. We are going to visit the cross to remember what Jesus did for us on Good Friday."

         "This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise." Lk. 23: 43

"You mean that He died? On that cross?
Why did he have to die Mama?"

"He didn't have to honey. He choose to. For you Lacey. And for me. We didn't deserve it. We didn't deserve Him.
But He loves us anyway."

"Woman, behold thy son." Jn. 19: 26-7

The line was snaking toward the front.
We were halfway there.
A beautiful choir started to quietly sing in the background.
The voices kept reciting the words of Jesus.

"My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" 
 Mk. 15: 34

"What are people up there doing Mama?
Why are they kissing the cross?"

She played with my hair. She smelled so sweet. So innocent.

"They are saying thanks Lacey. Thanks to Christ for His gift. Gratitude for His death. Acknowledgement that our lives would be nothing without knowing Jesus."

 "I thirst." Jn. 19: 28

There were just two people ahead of me. I closed my eyes, picturing my Savior, my Jesus, the Prince of Peace and Great I Am. I imagined him hanging. Dying for me.
I was so moved that I wanted to fall at the foot of the cross. 

"It is finished." Jn 19: 30

"Are you going to kiss it too Mama? ...
Why aren't you answering me? Mama?"

I nodded my head. Pulled her blonde head closer.

I can't even describe or write to you
what I experienced next.
I was suddenly unaware of anyone else in the Church. 

I could've cared less who saw me or if I made a fool of myself. It was just my heart at the feet of a dying Savior.

I felt in the presence of Christ. Pure peace. Unconditional love.   

When it was my turn I closed my eyes again.
Kneeled down. Bowed my head low.
And then I gently kissed the bottom of the cross.
Tears streaming down my face.

"Into thine hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit."
Lk. 23:46

"Mama, why are you crying? What's wrong?
Are they happy tears?"

"Yes, baby. I am happy. Beyond happy and so thankful for what Jesus did this day, over 2,000 years ago."

I left the service speechless. I wanted the moment to linger.
I was fearful if I spoke I would forget what I just did.

I have always felt so appreciative for what Jesus did for me on Cavalry. But this year I grown so much closer to Christ as I have started to understand the intention setting aside an entire week to prepare for Easter Sunday.
I am entralled with "Holy Week".
Holy Thursday. Good Friday.
Focusing on His Passion days before we celebrate His Resurrection  has really helped me to center my heart on this special season.  What a gift the Church has to offer us if we are willing to dive in.

My prayer this afternoon: Thank you Jesus for what did for me on the cross. Thank you for your life. For your death. For your sacrifice. For the pain you went through, the ridicule you welcomed and the crown of thorns you wore. Thank you for doing this for me. Prepare my heart for your resurrection and unite my life to yours. Thank you for calling me your daughter. I am yours Lord.
All my days, I am forever yours.
Love, Jodi

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