On Palm Sunday, I walked into the 9 am service hoping to find someone cool to sit with. Since I usually attend the later contemporary service, I stood at the back looking for someone I knew. I saw Faye from my writing group walk in. She’s super cool. I quickly walked over to her.
“Can I sit with you?”
We hugged, and I followed her down the left aisle of the sanctuary. Hmm…I usually sit on the right. I noticed Pastor Bill and his wife sitting on the right. They usually sit on the left. Everything is opposite today.
Shortly after the service started, we saw people passing palm leaves down the rows. Faye took one from the stack lying on the pew beside her, and passed them on to me. They were so long. I’m pretty sure mine hit the lady in front of me. I handed it to Faye and said jokingly “make this into a cross for me so it’s not so big!” She took me seriously and got to work.
The choir began their “Easter Cantata”. I wasn’t sure what that meant. I looked in the bulletin and noticed there wasn’t a sermon but a list of nine songs instead. What? This service was definitely different from anything I had ever been to. Also, still weird that I was sitting on the wrong side…and Pastor Bill too?!
All of a sudden, beautiful music filled the sanctuary, and I was in awe. These people were good. I turned to Faye to tell her just that. She smiled in agreement and continued to work on my cross.
The music takes me deeper and deeper into the story. I imagine myself there…in the story. Then, out of nowhere…I feel his presence. His arm is around me. Jesus is sitting right next to ME. Faye is cool but this is WAY cooler. I can’t see Him, but I just know He is there. I look at all of the people in front of me. Is He sitting with them too?!
Faye hands me her beautiful artwork. I place my left thumb just under the place where the cross is formed. I feel my pulse through my thumb…or is that His heart?
The music continues, leading Christ to the cross. I silently tell Him not to take his arm from my shoulder. I beg Him not to go. He goes anyway. An empty spot is now beside me, but I can still feel His beating heart through my thumb on the cross.
He’s still there.
The music takes us to His death. I can’t feel the pulse in my thumb. It’s gone.
I look to the beautiful cross on the stage and picture Him there. His arms stretched wide. I imagine the pain of the thorns on His head. I imagine the pain of nails being driven through my own hands. I imagine a cut in my side.
I wonder what pain He focused on. I think of the discomfort in my back from the hard pew. It seems silly now.
Then, just like magic, He’s sitting beside me again, His arm around me. “I told you I wouldn’t leave you.”
Peace sweeps over me. In less than an hour I was transformed. I was taken on a wild ride of emotions as the music unfolded. I started out forcing myself to be ok with things not as I expected. I was then comforted, then scared, then horrified, then alone and finally…saved.