I decided that our beliefs could be conveyed through a drama. I would compose "Letters to Jesus" written by someone who could actually have gone to the tomb that first Easter to see that the grave was empty. I could also compose another "Letter to Jesus" from a present day person who had chosen to believe because of trusting the truth of scripture.
Members of my immediate family became the actors who portrayed the Biblical character who wrote a letter to Jesus upon learning of the resurrection. The actor read the letter to those gathered, removed their costume and became themselves - a present day believer who also wanted to read a letter they'd written to Jesus in order to convey personal gratitude for what he meant to them.
I selected seven Biblical characters; some of whom I gave a name because their Biblical story does not include a personal name. For our worship event that Easter Sunday morning, we used five performers.
My heart is filled with gratitude as I contemplate the immense sacrifice made by Jesus on my behalf. I am not worthy of forgiveness but my life has been changed because I have received that free gift which was made possible by Christ's death. I am posting the "Letters to Jesus" on this blog today. We begin with:
MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS
The tomb IS empty! It IS true! As soon as I heard the news of the resurrection, I just had to come here and see for myself. I was so afraid it was a trick; someone's imagination. You see, I'm Mary, Jesus' mother. If you're a mother you can probably imagine how I've been feeling since last Friday, what with the crucifixion and all but now - THIS. I could hardly believe it when I heard it. I just had to come and check for myself and see if the tomb really was empty. I want to read something to you. I've written a letter to my son which I hope to give him later today. He is busy with Peter and John and the others, I know, but I'm sure there will be a moment when we can be together for a few minutes. I can't wait to see him and once again give him a hug.
Dear Jesus, my son;
Being your mother has been such a remarkable experience. I have so often wondered why I was chosen for such a blessed privilege. For the past 33 years I have kept a journal and have recorded my thoughts as I watched you grow from infancy to manhood. There have been so many things I wanted to tell you - so many feelings I wanted to express. I have pondered these things in my heart and many of them I have put into this letter to you.
My first recollection is of that frightening appearance by the angel, Gabriel. I was so young and so excited about my wedding plans. And then the news that I would have a baby - how could that be? But the angel assured me there was a way and the baby would be the long awaited Messiah whose name was to be Jesus. Gabriel told me you were to save your people from their sin. I thought of that often. How would you save your people from their sin? Our sin was atoned for through the blood sacrifice of a perfect lamb. This was God's gracious way of offering forgiveness for our sin. Sometimes as my mind considered how you would save your people from their sin, I would be fearful but those moments were fleeting. Your birth was so thrilling. That little stable became so crowded with the anxious, eager shepherds all seeking a glimpse of you. I wondered what it could all mean. And then there was the cross-country move to escape from Bethlehem into Egypt. You were nearly two years old and I had put my roots down in Bethlehem so deeply, how I hated to pack and leave. And just as I was comfortably settled in Egypt, it was time to pack and travel cross-country again to Nazareth.
Those years when you were growing up and your brothers and sisters were being born, I would often be so exhausted and frustrated. I wanted to be a perfect mother and have perfect children but I too often let stress overwhelm me and I would respond unkindly and harshly. How I wish I could take back some of the things I said and did. I wanted to be the best mother possible but I know I often failed. You were so loving despite my frailty. Thank you for being an obedient son - for helping with all the household chores and all your little brothers and sisters and for being patient with me. I may not have always showed how much I loved you, but believe me, I always loved you intensely. I knew the day would come when you would begin your own career. How pleased I was when you turned the water to wine at that wedding feast - you really do love weddings. And whenever I heard of the miracles you performed - feeding thousands, healing sick, raising the dead - my heart nearly burst with pride. But there were other things I didn't understand. I was afraid you were crazy. People would mob you and sometimes you were so angry - like when you found sellers in the temple. I was always afraid there'd be a rebellion and you would get hurt. I really wanted to protect you from pain. But I couldn't. And then I witnessed your death. Every part of my body ached for you. In some ways I wish I wouldn't have been there to see you crucified but I couldn't tear myself away either. I just kept expecting that you would perform another miracle and get away. I watched those evil men manipulate the crowd in front of Pilate and get the people to demand your death and I was sure it was a mistake. It just had to be. You were perfect. You had done no wrong. You didn't deserve to die. I kept thinking, "If they crucify Him, evil will prevail. Right will fail." How I wanted to reach out with some caring touch or word to let you know how much I loved you. I just seemed immobilized. As I knelt below your cross, I recalled Gabriel's words, "You will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." But how would you save your people now? You were dead. You were gone. It was over. My pain was so great.
I've hardly slept all weekend. I just kept thinking "Where is the miracle?" And now I will see for myself. The tomb is empty. You did defeat death. You are alive. Thank you Jesus, for being my perfect son but thank you most of all for being the perfect sacrifice for my sin. I am sorry for all my unrighteousness. Please forgive me. I'm not worthy but I know you love me anyway. I give you my allegiance and will always be,
Your loving mother and devoted follower,
I, too, have a letter I've written to Jesus.
I can easily relate to Mary. I feel so honored to be a mother. You have blessed me beyond anything I could have imagined. But like Mary, I have often failed - I have not always been the mother, wife, friend, daughter, person you wanted me to be. I am not worthy of your love. I wish I could stand before your cross as a perfect person in my own strength but I, too, have sinned. How I would like to go back and undo some wrongs of my life. But I can't. That's why Easter is so important to me. Because of your perfect sacrifice, I can be forgiven. You not only have taken away my sin, but you have also taken away the guilt I have felt. Your love for me took you to the cross and now there's a way for me to be forgiven. Thank you for being the worthy lamb. I give you my allegiance and with your help, I'll always be a loving mother and your devoted follower.