Sunday, March 31, 2013

Songs in the Night: You Called Me By My Name

Songs in the Night: You Called Me By My Name:      This is Easter, Resurrection Sunday, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who was crucified on a cross, died a ...

#26: You Called Me By My Name

     This is Easter, Resurrection Sunday, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who was crucified on a cross, died a cruel, painful death, and was buried in a borrowed tomb. Then, on the third day, in the morning, He came alive again.We say He rose from the dead, but we don't know if He rose or just got up and walked out of that tomb, but He was alive, healed of his wounds (though the scars were still there), and YHe showed Himself to many of His friends and followers in the days that followed before He went back to Heaven to be with His Father.
     What we don't mention enough on this day are the victories that He gave us on that day. Because He conquered death, we who believe in Him will also conquer it---not just when we die, but right now in our lives as we live them!! Every day is different for us because of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, Who taught us how to live in a way that brings victory over our day-to day problems. Because He lived, we are never the same again!
     I want to illustrate my point with a song I wrote several years ago when I played Mary Magdalene in one of our Easter Passion Plays at my former church, First Baptist Church, Midland, Texas. When I was given the part, I read and researched all I could about Mary Magdalene and tried to get inside the character by imagining what it must have been like to be she. In the play I accompanied Mary, the mother of Jesus to the cross and witnessed the crucifixion, as the original Mary Magdalene did. Then, as Jesus' body was removed from the cross and carried off the stage, I sang "Pour my Love on You" and wept, knowing that I (Mary) had lost my dearest friend and Savior, because He had saved me from so much and given me joy and victory in my life. I had become a completely new and different person from the one I had been because of Jesus.

Luke 8:1-3: "[Jesus] journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources."

     I could weep in that scene where Jesus died and Mary grieved, not only because I have lost a son as well and empathize with Mary the Mother of Jesus, bur because I also identify with Mary of Magdalene, who was delivered from seven demons by Jesus and  whose life was forever changed.  Because of what Jesus did for me, I will never be the same again. She became a follower, and so did I. I will never turn back from following Jesus, and there is nothing more important in my life than my relationship with Him and trying to help others find that peace and joy that a relationship with Jesus will give them. Thus, at Easter I picture myself at the cross also. I know that He died for my sins personally and for everyone.

Mark 15:40: There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joseph, and Salome.
Matthew 27:56: Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
John 19:25: But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

     Mary was among the women who cared enough about Jesus that they wanted to prepare His body for burial.

Mark 15:47: Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph were looking on to see where He was laid.
Matthew 27:61: And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.
Matthew 28:1: Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
Mark 16:1: When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him.

     Mary Magdalene was not only at the crucifixion; she was also at the resurrection. It was she who went to the tomb that first Easter morning. Each gospel records that Mary was there; she was the first to see Jesus alive again, she heard Him call her by her name, and she went to tell the other apostles that she had seen Him --Jesus--Alive! What a remarkable story! What an amazing truth!!

John 20:1: Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.
Mark 16:9: Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.
John 20:18: Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and that He had said these things to her.
Luke 24: But at daybreak on the first day of the week [the women] took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day." And they remembered his words.
Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others.
The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them.
Here's a wonderful explanation of what Mary might have felt from the website, Living Bulwark:
"The first witness to the risen Christ
Mary Magdalene is the only woman named in all four gospel accounts of the resurrection. However, in John’s Gospel, Mary is the first witness to the risen Christ, and her moving encounter with Jesus conveys the pure joy she must have felt as she recognized her master. 
Mary came to the tomb early on the first day of the week, as soon as the sabbath had ended. Distressed at not finding Jesus’ body there as expected, she ran to tell Simon Peter that it had been removed (John 20:1-2). On her return to the empty tomb, two angels questioned why she was weeping. However, consumed by grief, she persisted in her assumption that the body had been taken away—perhaps stolen by grave robbers (20:11-13). When Jesus himself stood near her, Mary even mistook him for the caretaker of the garden where the tomb was located (20:14-15).
How is it that Mary—who knew the one who had freed her from her demonic affliction so well—failed to recognize her beloved Lord? Perhaps her tears blinded her. She may have been so overwhelmed by sorrow that she was deceived by her own expectations, with no room in her heart to comprehend any other possibility than that of finding his corpse. Or maybe Jesus’ resurrected body was so totally and gloriously transformed that he was unrecognizable. 
As if to probe Mary’s desire for him, Jesus asked, “Whom do you seek?” (John 20:15). Was she searching for the Lord or, with her limited understanding, for her preconceived image of him as she assumed him to be? When he said “Mary,” it was to his voice speaking her name that she finally responded with joyful recognition (20:16). The noted French writer Henri Daniel-Rops described this meeting vividly:
Then the unknown man spoke one word, “Mary,” and she looked at him, transfixed. . . . This one word sufficed to reawaken in the Magdalene the ardor and certainty of her faith. What Christian has not dreamed of hearing it, the word with which, from all eternity, God calls each one of us, but which the deaf do not hear. (Jesus and His Times)
With this single word, Jesus freed Mary again, this time from the hopelessness that had taken hold of her when she watched him die on the cross. The liturgical  prayer known as the sequence, recited at Mass on Easter Monday, poetically imagines Mary’s early morning visit to the garden where Jesus was buried: “‘Tell us, Mary, what did you see on the way?’ ‘I saw the tomb of the now living Christ. I saw the glory of Christ, now risen. Christ my hope has risen!’”
When Mary heard her name, she turned and saw the Lord. In a surge of joy and relief she exclaimed, “Rabboni!”—an ecstatic pledge of her faith in Jesus and in his resurrection. "

     Mary Magdalene's life and playing her in the Easter Passion Play inspired me to write a song about her and her relationship with Jesus. It is entitled "You Called Me By My Name". In the song, Mary describes meeting Jesus and finding that He changes her life. She bemoans that He, who is innocent, is the One Who is killed, yet she, who was guilty of so many sins, is given freedom and life. In the first two verses, she thinks her life is over because Jesus has been killed. However, she goes to the tomb on the third day, and her life truly is never the same again. Ideally, the singer would present this song in Biblical dress with dramatic movement and interpretation. I could picture someone singing this at an Easter sunrise service!!

(Verse 1)
You knew everything about me, yet You loved me just the same.
When no one else would have me, You called me by my name.
And the best thing that ever happened in my life was when You came.
For I heard You call, and now my life has changed.

You drew me from darkness into Your light.
Though demons enslaved me, You put them to flight.
And though I was guilty, You set me free.
And, when I deserved to die, You gave a new life to me.

Who am I that you should seek and find me?
Now you're gone, and missing you reminds me
Of all that You gave me,
The way Your love saved me,
And I'll never be the same again.

(Verse 2)
I knew nothing much about You, but I loved you just the same.
Though the throngs were gathered round you, You still called me by my name.
And the best thing that ever happened in my life was when You came.
Oh, I knew you then, but now my life has changed.

They took You in darkness, denying Your light.
While demons were raging, Your friends all took flight.
And, though You were innocent, they condemned You to death.
I heard You say, "Forgive them." I watched you take Your last breath.

Who are You that they would seize and slay You?
Oh, dearest Lord, it seems we all betray You.
And Who are we that You would suffer for us?
Your body bruised, Your blood poured out before us?

Oh, I feel like a Barabbas, Lord. It should have been me!
But, somehow I know that You planned this to be.
And we'll never be the same again.

(musical interlude, during which scripture concerning Jesus' burial and the women visiting the tomb is read.)

(Verse 3)
So I went to tend Your body on the dawn of the third day.
But I found the tomb was empty, and the stone was rolled away.
Then I saw You in the garden, and, then, You said my name!
Oh, I knew You then, and now my life has changed!
Yes, You called my name! Now the whole world's changed!

I've seen the Lord!
He knows my name!
I've seen the Lord!
I know He lives again!
And we'll never be the same; we'll never be the same again.
Because He lives, our lives will never be the same!!

Judy Googins