Were You There?

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

I first heard this old African-American spiritual when I was a child. I answered, ‘No’. My literal, childish brain was right…

For as long as I can remember I’ve known the story. I was taught it, read it, saw pictures… the trial, the purple robe, the crown of thorns, the crowds, the nails, the cross.

Were you there? I know the story. I’m an observer.

I got to know it better. The story became more real – the voices, sounds, emotions, characters, ‘I find no fault in this man!’….’Crucify him!’…, blood, pain, ‘I’m thirsty!’… ‘It is finished!’

Were you there? …when they nailed him to the tree? …pierced him in the side?…laid him in the tomb? I’m there in my imagination. I’m a participant.

When the slaves sung this song they identified with an innocent man who was suffering; their story was his story.

I see undeserved suffering, pain, rejection, loneliness, death…  Somehow it starts to make more sense.

Were you there? Sometimes it causes me to tremble… His story becomes part off my story. My participation is personal.

As I accept this story in a new way I exercise a faith that has both child-like simplicity and profound depth. It’s a faith that gives hope, accepts what I cannot fully understand and changes my life.

 Were you there? By faith I was there and still am there, continually participating in and responding to the events. As I stay I see it more clearly and appreciate it more fully.

Were you there when he rose up from the dead?
Were you there when he rose up from the dead?
Sometimes I feel like shouting ‘Glory, glory, glory!’
Were you there when he rose up from the dead?

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