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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Peggy McCracken

Squarely Pegged

By Peggy McCracken

Jesus’ birth and death
foreshadow his return

As I was reading the account of Jesus’ death on the cross this morning, I recalled the summer when I played his mother in that scene, crying my eyes out on the stage of the Globe Theater at Odessa College.

It wasn’t the first time I played Mary. My first-grade teacher chose me for that part in a Christmas play. It struck me this morning that the time differential for the two performances was 33 years – the same time between Jesus’ birth and death. Is that a coincidence? I wonder.

Both roles came in my first year: elementary school, then college (at age 40). Is God trying to tell me something here? Whether coincidence or not, I was honored to be chosen for the roles. I’m sure my dark complexion, brown eyes and brown hair carried some weight in the selection. I must have looked more like a young Jewish girl than the blondes and redheads in my first-grade class.

By the time I entered Odessa College for the specific purpose of performing in “The Life of Christ,” grey was beginning to frost my bangs, so the more mature look fitted me for the aging Mary.

I shall never forget the blue, crepe paper dress my mother made for me to wear in that first Christmas pageant. I wore blue again as a college freshman as the aging Mary. I don’t recall having a speaking part in the story of Jesus’ birth as a first-grader, but I did have a few lines during his ministry. The first was at the wedding in Cana, where Jesus performed his first public miracle by turning water into wine at my request.

“They have no more wine,” I practiced daily on my drives to and from Odessa, never quite getting the Texas twang out of “wine.”

The most emotional scene was at the cross, where I loudly wept bitter tears every Sunday afternoon for about six weeks, as we entertained a sell-out crowd.

Our performances were the only ones of that Shakespearean summer that made money. Shakespeare’s plays were staged at night during the week, and I declined to make that long trip twice a day. My part in the Shakespeare plays was to sew costumes and paint scenery.

I learned a lot that summer about directing plays, changing scripts, staging and lighting. Not to mention having the life of Christ burned into my memory. Mary spent little time onstage, so I sat out front watching rehearsals until I could have quoted most of the lines from the King James Version. I used the script and the expertise later to stage an abbreviated version at West Park Baptist Church.

I can still see the disciples entering a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee; surrounding Jesus when he delivered the Sermon on the Mount; feeding the 5,000; Mary Magdalene anointing his head with perfume.

After the scene at the cross, Jesus rose from the grave and ascended in his new body, promising to return and gather believers up to be with him in Heaven.

Some say that if they knew Jesus were returning today, they would go about business as usual. Not me. I would go out in the backyard, turn my swinging bench to face east and just sit and watch the sky.

Maybe I will put on a blue dress so He will recognize me.

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Rev. 20:20, NIV

EDITOR’S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is Enterprise columnist and feature writer. Contact her at HYPERLINK ""

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