Friday, March 25, 2016

An Invitation to Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday is the odd child of Holy Week. We have washed feet, retold the story of the institution of the Eucharist, followed Jesus into the Garden of Gethsemane, heard the cries of "Crucify Him!" and marked with silence his death on the cross. And then we walk away, with Jesus in the tomb.

We don't really know what to do with this day, this in-between time after Good Friday and before we celebrate the resurrection. Many of us fill the gap day by jumping the gun on Easter, having egg hunts and parties. At the parish, the building is alive in the scurry of preparation. Everything is cleaned and polished, and what feels like millions of lilies descend upon the place in great anticipation of what is to come. Nobody tries to think about a dead body in a borrowed tomb, because we know the rest of the story.

Holy Saturday mimics the day after a funeral, when everybody is still in town, but nobody knows quite what to do with themselves. The pain of death is still fresh, and the air of loss permeates all that you do. There is an empty space, both in the heart, and in the physical space. Their chair is empty, their favorite mug goes unused. You want to do something and you want to do nothing at the same time. There is no established routine to help you through it.  It's hard to let it be.

But I think that discomfort, that sense of emptiness and loss is an important part of Holy Week. Year after year we are reminded of that disconnect, that gap when Jesus was in a tomb and the world had crucified the greatest gift it had ever been given. It is a time to grieve for the world, who is in so much pain and turmoil. It is a time to feel the loss of lives to violence and apathy. It is hard to sit with it. You want to do something and nothing at the same time. There appears to be nothing to help you through it and it's hard to just let it be, to let yourself actually feel it. You'd rather skip to the resurrection, to celebrating life, but I think there is power in being able to sit with death. It cannot harm you, it has been conquered, but it can change you.

Maybe sitting with Christ's death, you will find a new focus for your life. Maybe you will discover your apathy melting away and a call to new ministry and new life in Christ, ready to battle those things which cause so much death in the world. I invite you to take your time, to not rush through the tomb to get to the resurrection. Let it be. Invite it to shape you.

A blessed Holy Saturday to you and yours.

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