Hope your celebration of holy week is blessed with new beginnings, redemptive resurrections, and tombs empty of tears and despair.
Mary stroked the soft thick fleece of the little white lamb, and it settled into her arms and fell asleep. She marveled at its sweetness as she cradled it in her arms like a little baby.
She could have laid it down and gone about her chores, but it was so precious, and she hated to disturb it, and so she sat, stroking the soft wool, and learning to love this little lamb. It shivered in her arms, and Mary laughed as it tickled her skin with its softness. When it awoke and cried for its mama, Mary let it suck on her finger, and it went back to sleep. She had a few more moments with the little lamb, born for a special purpose, that her father had entrusted her to keep watch over.
[quote]“Little one,” she crooned as she sang it back to sleep, “My soul glorifies the Lord because He is merciful and compassionate, and He has chosen us to bless His name. All creation blesses the name of the Lord. You are a special chosen one, little lamb, and I love you, and will care for you until you fulfill your destiny to bring glory and honor to our Lord, El Elohim. He will help his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as He said to our fathers.”[/quote]
Mary was a dutiful child, and faithfully obeyed her father’s request. She knew this task would be difficult, but she also knew her father would not ask her to do anything she wasn’t capable of doing, and so she cared for this little lamb. She took it back to its mother, and watched as it nuzzled until it found its satisfaction, its little tail wagging back and forth as it gulped the warm milk.
She laughed as it pushed against its mother, as though it couldn’t swallow fast enough, and when it finally had its fill, she cuddled the little lamb again, warm milk dotting its little lips, the scent of fresh milk on its breath as it fell asleep satisfied and secure.
As the little lamb grew out of Mary’s arms, it never grew out of her heart. She watched it gambol around the meadow, and laughed as it jumped into the air, twisted, and came down running on its nimble feet. She chased it and rolled in the fresh grass, and as it lay in her arms for a mid morning nap, Mary watched the clouds, and sang a tune.
[quote]“Oh, God, Holy is your name. Your mercy extends to those who fear you from generation to generation. You have performed mighty deeds with your arm, and scattered those who are proud in their utmost thoughts. Mighty is your name, El Shaddai.”[/quote]
And she pondered the work of the Lord and wondered at His commands, and she was proud that her little lamb was chosen for great things. As the special day arrived, Mary’s excitement grew as she knew the celebration was nearing. The family gathered and her father asked her how the lamb was doing, and she proudly replied that he was perfect and ready. She washed him, laughed as he shook the water droplets off, and she tenderly dried him with a towel, before combing his fleece while she sang,
[quote]“You are blessed, little one. You are chosen. You are perfect. You are ready. How I love you, and how my heart rejoices in God my Savior, Jehovah Nissi, who brought his people out of captivity. His mercy extends to those who fear him from generation to generation.”[/quote]
She led the little lamb to her father, and with her hand on the lamb’s shoulder, it stood silent and trusting in a reverent moment. And as the lamb was slaughtered, and offered up as a sacrifice, it was as if the knife pierced Mary’s heart, as her love for the lamb, and her love for her God tore at her heart, from different sides, and there was not room for both loves in one little heart. And yet, she partook of the offering of her little lamb, honoring its sacrifice as the family gathered around the table of communion to commemorate the Passover, and to honor the sacrifice of the lamb.
Mary pondered these things in her heart, and years later as she held her own precious baby in her arms, her soul magnified the Lord and she sang to that babe,
[quote]“The Mighty One, Jehovah Sabbaoth, has done great things. I am so blessed to be the one to hold you. All generations will call me blessed. You are chosen. You are perfect. You are blessed. You will do great things, little one.”[/quote]
And as the babe snuggled at her breast, she smiled as he eagerly drank, as though he couldn’t swallow fast enough, until he fell asleep satisfied and secure in her arms. As the baby grew, there were many days of laughing and rolling in the meadow, tumbling and lying in the grass as she watched the clouds, and sang him to sleep in her arms for a summertime nap.
And she pondered this special boy, she remembered how her heart had been pierced when she heard of the slaughter, by Herod, of all the little boys in Bethlehem — except hers. While her baby was safe in her arms, she heard in her heart the cries of Rachael, weeping for her sons, but refusing to be comforted. Herod was gone now, and Mary sang,
[quote]“He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”[/quote]
The baby grew into a fine boy, and although he grew out of her arms, he never grew out of her heart, and she pondered all of the possibilities of the future for this perfect child with so much potential, so much promise, so much pride for this one without defect. The years passed, and Mary prepared her son for his task, and watched him step into his place of purpose and appointment, and once again she prepared for the Passover.
But, as she gazed at him, with pride, and sang a song without words, to comfort him in his distress, she remembered the words of Simeon, that a sword would pierce her heart, and she heard the cries of Rachael, and wept again, identifying with the pain of her sisters, because her heart could not contain the love and the pain.
And as the sword pierced his side, and water gushed from his heart, and splashed upon her face, combining with the tears gushing from her own heart, still her soul magnified the Lord. And as the centurion bowed and exclaimed, “Surely this was the son of God,” Mary, too acknowledged that and sang the only words she could utter at that moment,
[quote]“My soul glorifies the Lord.”[/quote]
Suddenly, Mary remembered the sacrifice of the lamb, and she remembered the words of John,
[quote]“Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world,”[/quote]
and she pondered the glory of God, and as darkness covered the land, and the rocks shook, she felt the pain and sting of death, and her heart was torn with her trust in God and her love for her son, but her heart was too small for both loves, and it tore with the effort. As she pondered all of these things, and longed to hold her son one last time, to prepare his body and to sing for him one last time, she approached the tomb with a heavy heart.
But, soon, just as years ago, when the baby John had leaped in her cousin Elizabeth’s womb, at the mere presence of her baby in her own womb, her heart leaped at the sound of his voice, and her soul magnified the Lord, and she sang,
[quote]“He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever and ever as he said to our fathers.”[/quote]
And her heart was torn, because it was too small to contain the joy and the wonderment at the fulfillment of the promise in this her son, the slain Passover lamb, resurrected to be the savior of the world – not as she had envisioned, but according to promise.
And she pondered these things in her heart, even as it was pierced with the loss of seeing him disappear into the clouds on a perfect sunny day, as the lambs gamboled in the meadow below.
Behold the Lamb!
phrases taken from Mary’s song, and verses from Luke 1 and 2