Saturday night

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One of the curiosities of this Christian life is that we all engage it liturgically whether we want to or not. There is more to the rhythms and movements of the Gospel story than can be found in a church service or reciting words or showing up nattily dressed at a sunrise gathering. We live it.

This isn’t the curiosity. The curiosity is that we all live it in different ways at different times. Tomorrow is Easter, at least in the West. Next Sunday is Easter in the Eastern Church. That means that while there can be feasting on this coming friday for the Christ who lives, a good portion of the church will be fasting over the Christ who died. The rhythms are thrown off, and no end of discussion has taken place over who should have the power to get everyone sharing the same day of feasting.

Yet, our lives reflect just that. Tomorrow in a church service there will be people who have lived Easter lives, who while enduring ups and downs have primarily celebrated a feast of existence, and who have spent only a few hours in the tomb. They tend to be the most vocal as the Christian life is about the victory, and they experience the victory in their whole being. The are liturgically Easter, revealing the life of God.

Others are not so well off. Even as there are days of feasting, and people of feasting, so too are there days of fasting and people whose lives seem to be permanently residing in the darkened, stone covered, tomb. They have been crucified, through circumstances or emotions or loss or emptiness. Morning never has come. It is Saturday night now in the time of things, and for these people, it is always Saturday night. The darkness sits heavy. The angel is always hours away. There is stillness, but it is a stillness of death and decay, heavy on the heart and a chain to the soul.

Think of what the disciples felt on that Saturday night. It had been over twenty four hours, and Christ was still dead. The shock of his killing was gone, leaving only the empty and gnawing numbness of everything they had lived for being utterly wrong. They knew Jesus spoke words of hope, but in this moment that hope was indeed fully dead, in a tomb. The women thought only to make sure this death was properly treated. There was no sense of anything else. They saw death, they knew death, they felt death, if not in their own bones, in their own souls, for all they had lived for, all they would have died for, was dead. The passion had robbed their passion, and tapped their being for all purposes besides empty existence.

That’s the struggle of the Church today. Not simply to speak the seasons and honor the days. But to see how people truly are and truly live. There are those who will be in the pews who understand the fullness of a resurrection, for they have felt it in their own lives. We should celebrate with them. But for those others, who can’t even begin to say what resurrection is, knowing it only as an empty mist of assumed rhetoric, who are going to be celebrating life when they in their deepest selves know only the death of the tomb, we need to bring them hope. We need to realize how God works, and that the seasons of God’s work sometimes linger for overlong moments in particular points, with the horror of this lingering being on the Saturday night a daily reality for all too many. It is these especially who need the Body of Christ, but it is these especially for whom this is foreign, and death dealing, and darkness.

John Wesley was converted when he was 35 at Aldersgate. They say converted but before that he was an active minister, a missionary to a foreign land, a radical devoted to the fullness of the spiritual disciplines. But, it wasn’t until he was 35 he finally passed through the night and came upon Sunday morning. So many of those in the church are the same way, inching through time, feeling only the weight and loss. And so many are lost, kicked out, given up on, as they linger waiting in the darkness. So many give up hope because they are left utterly alone that they walk away from the tomb, and never see the beauty of the Sunday morning that, for them, may be years away. Those who can wait, those who have people waiting with them and for them, they like Wesley experience the fullness of the resurrection in a way those who always have lived in it cannot even begin to describe. But unfortunately those who see it regularly have little regard for those who wait. And the Church in its yearly calendar has little patience for those who walk through the days at a significantly slower pace.

That is something to consider. Just as Saturday night is something to consider. We see the troubles and we see the answer, yet we always skip so breezily over that soul crushing time in between. But that is where we live, some of us more potently than others. And we need voices of hope and actions of comfort to convince us that even after years of Saturday lingering, Sunday will in fact come.

Sunday does in fact come. May those be more than just words for people trapped in the darkness of God’s curious work.

One Response to “Saturday night”

  1. marie Says:

    I think this is an excellent, sensitive and thoughtful Easter message! It has infused that sympathy and empathy that we as believers are urged to embrace within the Body of the Messiah. Weep with those who weep. Rejoice with those who rejoice. To this we are called but it is horribly disregarded, ignored. So often, happy people resent sad people and sad people resent happy people in the church community. I love Scripture because it always encompasses the entire spectrum of human experience: from agony to ecstacy!