Were you there?

April 12, 2007 at 4:55 pm Leave a comment

I wanted to write a post for Easter. (I know, I’m a little late.) It just seemed like the thing Christian bloggers do. Problem was, I couldn’t think of anything to say that wasn’t already being said elsewhere.

Then it occurred to me that perhaps my approach left something to be desired: Was I meditating on Easter just for the purpose of coming up with something to blog about? (Sometimes I amaze myself with my own hypocrisy.)

Immediately after that, of course, I figured out what to blog on. Irony works that way.


On Saturday, my family and I drove two hours to go to an outdoor passion play in Collegedale, Tennessee. During the crucifixion scene, against the backdrop of three half-naked bodies suspended ignominiously between heaven and earth on rough-hewn stakes, someone sang an unadorned a capella solo of the old spiritual, “Were You There?”:

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

I doubt the songwriter meant it this way, but I took the question rather literally: Was I there? Have I experienced this most important of all historical events for myself?

In writing to the Romans, Paul maintained that salvation occurs in the life of an individual as that person is caught up in Christ’s death, as he or she participates in it personally:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? […] Our old self was crucified with him. (Romans 6:3, 6)

(‘tis a rather awkward, weird, get-me-out-of-here-‘cause-this- is-getting-a-little-too-bizarre image to discuss, I know. Especially since I’m not one much for mysticism. But tough cookies. Gritty truths don’t come in nice fuzzy packages.)

The logic here is that if we die with Christ, we also live with him:

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)

Apparently, then, salvation occurs as we are there in Christ’s death, uniting ourselves to Him, participating in his death and simultaneously experiencing our own deaths.

Which leads me to think that the important question with respect to Easter is not whether I have something to blog about. It’s not even whether or not I believe that the crucifixion and the resurrection were real historical events, or whether I “claim” that sacrifice on my own behalf.

Rather, the question is, Do I know that that death-and-resurrection experience as my own? Was I there when they crucified my Lord?

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

We are what we behold Shame, shame!

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profile.jpgI am working on my M.A. in Religion at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Besides having a big interest in theology, history, ethics, and the deep stuff of life, I am also very fond of Mediterranean food, snow, and the color red.

Email me: jamie.kiley@gmail.com

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