First Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua

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March 2013

Mary of Nazareth

Of all the people at the cross, Mary is the most familiar—and yet the LEAST familiar to Protestants. Mary has been widely honored, even worshipped over the centuries. The extreme devotion of Christians to the Virgin Mary, in the late Middle Ages, led Martin Luther and John Calvin to banish almost all mention of Mary from their churches during the Reformation. Some still hesitate to call her Jesus' first disciple. And yet, all four Gospel writers recognized her discipleship: Mary, the teenage girl who heard the voice of angels; the mother who (with Joseph) brought Jesus to the rabbis in the Jersusalem temple, to be taught; the proud parent who prompted Him to begin His ministry by turning water into wine. She joined His followers at the Sea of Galilee, and she stood by Him His dying day.

Mary was not an old woman at the time of her son's crucifixion. She would have been in her late forties if Jesus had been born when she was only fourteen. Mary of the crucifixion was an ordinary peasan. Her back was probably bent over, from years of manual labor. Surely, Mary's face was lined with care as she stood at the foot of the cross on Good Friday. Today is the day of her worst nightmare: the death of her own child. That's not supposed to happen; it's meant to be the other way around. Parents are supposed to die first. Yet, this is no nightmare; it's grimly real. "The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away." Mary wonders: has it all been for nothing? Did God give her the precious gift of a son—for this? Is this how God always intended Jesus' ministry to end? At the foot of the cross, Mary feels the arms of her friends giving her strength. More than ever, these women are truly her companions: first, Mary Magdalene, the most courageous of His followers. She is a woman of strength and virtue—one of many people Jesus had healed. A strong and outspoken disciple, she has never left Him, even now. Salome, the mother of James and John, is there. There are other women as well—disciples as courageous as Peter, James, and Andrew. On the darkest of all days, they stand at Golgotha, the place of the skull. The women surround Mary at the foot of the cross.

Mary hears Jesus gasp out the words, "It is finished." Mary's life, as a mother and as a disciple of her son, would seem to be over now. But is it?

Our church will hold a traditional Tenebrae service of Good Friday. Readers will re-create the crucifixion of Christ in our sanctuary, with words from scripture and with music. Won't you join us for worship at seven-thirty p.m. on Friday, March 29?

Pastor Joyce

Previous Pastor Point - February 2013
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