I always loved Easter. It was a big deal when I was younger — I grew up as a Christian, in a Christian family, so the emphasis was always on Jesus. We went to church twice every Easter, solemnly marking Jesus’ death on Good Friday and joyously celebrating his resurrection on Easter Sunday. There was always some delicious hot cross buns for morning tea, toasted and topped with melted butter. Of course, there was plenty of chocolate eaten as well!
I remember thinking about how the events of that first Easter would have been for various people — the heartbreaking shame Peter would have felt after he denied Jesus, the strength of Simon of Cyrene as he took the cross from Jesus and carried the back-busting, heavy load up to Golgotha, and how shocked the women must have been when they went to the tomb and found it empty. What joy they must have felt after the angels spoke and they saw Jesus again! But when it came to the events on the very first Good Friday, there was one person whose pain I had never considered…
In all my thoughts about Easter, I had not stopped to think about how awful that day must have been for her. Not once! Until I too became a bereaved Mum.
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In 2013, as the first Easter after my daughter’s stillbirth approached, I found myself captivated by Mary. I understood the pain of losing a child, but Mary had to see her beloved son tortured, humiliated, and executed for crimes he had not committed. In my brief thoughts about Mary before 2013, I had thought she must have been so strong to stay with him and be there at the foot of the cross. But after losing a child myself, I saw things differently. Surely it would have been impossible for her to leave! Her mama heart would have pulled her to the cross, to be with her son for every possible moment. In 2013, I found myself grieving for Mary and all she must have gone through. But oh, what joy she must have felt on that Sunday! To see God’s power over death displayed, and her son, alive! I can hardly imagine what that would have been like.
This Easter is another year away from when we saw Ariella, but we are also another year closer to seeing her again. All because 2000 years ago, another Mum experienced loss as she watched her Son die. The impact of that first Easter has become immeasurably more real to me since my daughter died. Both the sadness of Friday and the joy of Sunday have been amplified as I think about what Mary went through, and look forward with hope to seeing the final end to death.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.