Category Archives: holidays

Will I notice?

A little more than two thousand years ago a baby was born. We throw parties in his honor. We give gifts. We feast. We sing. We make merry, yearning for that spirit of his birthday to infuse our souls; if only for a season, if only for a day.

We celebrate this particular birth because of what this birth means to this world. We honor this baby for the miracle of being born, for the life he lived, for the death he suffered and for being reborn from the dead to embrace life eternally. This rebirth from the dead gives us the chance to be reborn as well, moving from death to life and from darkness to hope.

On December 25 we celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.

The birth of this man is the glory we celebrate on Christmas. Pageants, musicals, songs, decorations, gatherings of family from across the nation, all because this man was born.

What if he had not been born? Where would we be today?

How would we live? How would we worship?

We would be without a way to encounter God directly. We would be without an ever present hope and without the peace of trusting God who works. Instead of being free, we would all be slaves. Where would we look for our salvation? To gods of stone and wood? To patterns of philosophy? To rules and laws? To ourselves and our own abilities to conquer this world?

Without the birth of Jesus we would be caught in a web of insecurity, never knowing how the vagaries of the gods might move in our lives. We would be looking for something, for anything, to bring us some security and hope and light.

Where would we look?

What if the Holy Spirit waited and didn’t bring forth Jesus until this year?

If Jesus was born today I wouldn’t even notice. He wouldn’t be born anywhere I was looking.

The details of his birth likely wouldn’t be too much different. He would be born to Jewish parents, as the delay of two thousand years wouldn’t change the Old Testament prophecies. He’d likely even be born in the Middle East, where the strife and terror and chaos of our current era is shockingly similar to the strife and terror and chaos then. Instead of traveling because of a census, Joseph and Mary might make an untimely trip because of a UN mandate or an agreement with Lebanon to close a northern Kibbutz and move the families back within the settled boundaries of Israel.

I would be looking at powerful leaders and charismatic prophets. I would keep my eyes on New York or London or Beijing. I would be following the lives of great people and care about the children they have. In my library would be books by men and women detailing how to interpret the symbols of the age.

My eyes would be on the things that clearly mattered. An obscure baby, born to an obscure Jewish family, during a this time of great chaos and uncertainty, wouldn’t appear on my radar. Who would think of looking there? Except for the wise men, of course.

I would be obsessed with the looking I imagine, desperate to see the hand of God in the midst of the world’s misery. In the book of Exodus he brought plagues and freedom. In the books that followed he brought great victories to his chosen people and established a great earthly kingdom for them. Wars and rumors of wars, along with miraculous intervention in these wars would be a sign. The Holy Spirit is filled with power so I would look for that power to be manifested in great events that would obviously change my life and bring real order to this present world.

If Jesus was born today I wouldn’t celebrate. I wouldn’t give presents. I wouldn’t sing songs or take time off from work. I would stay obsessed with the chaos and keep my eye on those people I knew mattered to this world

No doubt about it, if Jesus was born today I wouldn’t even notice.

Thank God the Holy Spirit brought forth Jesus in Mary two thousand years ago. Now, after many centuries I build my trust on the faith of millions of others who came before me. I build my trust on those who wrote about the obscure birth in an out of the way Israeli town. I celebrate not because of how Jesus was born but because I know the end of the story. The Holy Spirit worked long ago, so now I know where to look on this Christmas day.

And yet…

The Holy Spirit still works. In much the same way. Jesus is born on this day. No, he is not making another appearance as a defenseless baby destined to be baptized by the Baptist and die on the cross. Still, he is born on this day. This is the ever active work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit who visited Mary fills men and women all over the world. When the Holy Spirit descends, Christ makes an appearance in all manner of circumstances.

I would not have noticed when Jesus was born two thousand years ago, and I certainly would not notice if he was today born to a virgin. However, because of Christmas I have been given an opportunity to believe and look with new eyes. I have been called to notice the present work of Christ’s presence in this world.

I’m going to put aside my magazines, shut off the news, ignore the popular and the great. I’m going to look at the obscure and the troubled and those who are persecuted. I’m going to look around the room at folks who seem entirely average and unimpressive. The Spirit works through such people to bring Christ in this world. In recognizing, honoring, and supporting this work maybe I too can become a wise man.

So, on this Christmas I celebrate the birth of Christ two thousand years ago. I also celebrate the birth of Christ today, a constant birth that changes the world through outlandish people every day until his return. For in all those the Spirit fills, Christ is indeed born.

Will I notice?

(Something I wrote in 2006)

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The Hope of Holiness

I teach theology. I have a PhD in theology.  In common parlance, that makes me a theologian.

Yet, more often than I’d want to admit, I get those accusing, dismissive voices in the back of my mind, “Who are you?  You know who you are? And you pose as someone who can talk about God?”  Often accompanied by a short, or long, list of ways that I am presumptuous for thinking that.  Ways that clearly don’t mark me as a man of God.

Things I’ve done, or not done, in the past.  Fears and anxieties and misplaced hopes in the present.

That’s something writers get too. For other reasons usually. The idea that I have something to say is one of the biggest reasons people don’t write or try to share what they write.

Our pasts, our memories, our sense of self have much to say on our potential sources of insight or wisdom.  Mostly what it says is, “Don’t bother.”

Who am I to talk about God? Or pursuing the spiritual life?

This is a Saturday question as well.  Our pasts have caught up with us. Condemned and situated us in a place of judgment.   We are confronted with our weakness and stupidity and bad decisions made in stressful times, and bad decisions made when there wasn’t even a reason to make any decisions.  We ruined possibilities, friendships, respect, favor.  What hope do we have?

Who am I to talk about God?

Really, that’s why I pursued theology. To answer questions about hope and about God.  To find paths that left the muck and mire and pointed towards light and life.  Yet the muck and the mire remains.  Dirty, fouled, broken.

The result of past mistakes and past decisions and past missteps.

On Saturday, Jesus is dead and I’m left with myself, my past, my embarrassments.

On Saturday, there is still hope.  Hope that in the Promise there is still a potential for life that goes beyond what has been determined by my past. Hope that speaks into a future that is about God’s grace. Despite my steps, God still calls.  Despite my discouragements, God still loves. Despite my mistakes, God still seeks me to live, work, forgetting what is behind and pressing towards what is ahead each day.

What is ahead for Christ Jesus is ahead for me.  On Saturday, that is still risk. Risk that there’s something more. Risk that when I speak about theology, it is not predicated on my past, but on Christ’s future.

Am I determined by what I have been or what I have done? Or am I determined by who Jesus is and what he is doing?

I don’t see that in full yet.

I don’t see that for me or for others. The promise is still the same. The promise is still risk.

What someone else has done does not define them either.  Who someone has been or the mistakes they have made or the missed chances that populate their past is not, in light of the cross, who they are or will be.

Do I risk that?  Dare I hope for those who I have lost hope for?

Peter denied Jesus on Friday.  Jesus embraced Peter on Sunday.

How did Peter feel on Saturday?  Hopeful? Destitute?  Abandoned? Traitorous?

The past is determined by how we live on this Saturday.  Either the past is victor, and the cross is the end of the story. Or the future is victorious and on this Saturday we wait and we risk that the story continues on Sunday.  We wait and we risk together.

We wait for Easter and we risk in Easter.

What is the story we live in? What is the story we put others in?

That is Saturday, the Sabbath, the day of rest where there is no rest unless we have faith that there’s something more to this story, to our story, to the story of others.

 

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Time between Times

This is one of the more unusual days in the religious calendar. Friday is the crucifixion, that day in which we say that our sins were cleansed by the sacrifice of the Lamb. He took on the burden so we would not.

Tomorrow we celebrate the resurrection, the time in which death itself lost its sting, so that we who are of the Faith fear Sheol no more. To live is Christ, Paul says, and to die is gain. Death is but a transition from life to Life.

Saturday, today, is in between. Why didn’t Jesus come out on the Sabbath? Was it out of respect for the Law? Sunday had no special relevance until he made it so. Yes, the prophecies mention three days… why? Christ is not beholden to the prophecies, they are beholden to him. A curious consideration, and unknowable.

What were the disciples thinking? The Twelve, the others? Years of their lives had been spent with the man now dead. They could not return home, for traveling was forbidden for the most part. So they stayed, their lives lost, dead even though still alive. Already Christ had died on this day, he had not yet risen. They didn’t know he would. He told them, but they didn’t understand.

How many cursed Christ on this day for being deceitful? How many felt really bad about it after he rose again?

We live in the middle of the three days of the Passion, the time between times, Christ has come, Christ will come again. Already, not yet. Hoped for realities which are not apparent, no longer slaves to sin though sinners indeed, free and not free, alive and not alive, strong and weak, hopeful and fearful, that is our state. Yes, keeping the eye on the end is what helps us through the now, transforming our perspective even in the present so as to anticipate the future, letting us see time beyond time while we walk through time.

But we are living in the Saturday, the day between a day and a day, in which we expect everything and feel the loss of everything. Christ has told us what to expect, but we don’t really understand or believe it… just look at our lives, our hearts.

Saturday is an awkward day, neither here nor there. And so, it is a day of rest.

For a lot of reasons Holy Saturday is my most precious religious holiday. It is the one which I live with and the one which suits my soul. This is Holy Saturday. This is the day that reflects the present stanza of my inner liturgy. My whole life thus far is lived on this Saturday. Christ has died. May Christ be resurrected in my life, in the life of those around me. May the peace of God come into our hearts, and help us wait patiently for the fullness of Christ to enter our world for all eternity. Amen and amen.

It is Saturday, however, and all we have on this day is a promise. Such is our lives, such is my life. Praise be to the Three-in-One.

This post was something I wrote in 2008

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Between Yesterday and Tomorrow

It is Saturday, between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. This day has more and more meaning to me as the years go by, some of which I’ve written about in other places, some of which still I reflect on.

This being a journal of my spirit and soul I think it’s good to say how much I identify with this day more than tomorrow or yesterday. I feel forgiven, I have no guilt, I do not feel the weight of my own sins. They have been released and I am a slave to nothing. And yet, I do not feel resurrected. The weight of life’s difficulties weighs on my soul, my doubts and confidence balance each other out, each gaining sway for their own time. I taste of new life, I do not dwell in new life. Much has begun, nothing is resolved. I live in utter faith that the work God has started in me will be finished, with wonderful results. There is no actual indication this is the case.

Indeed, with all of the pomp and celebration of Easter, I feel myself distant from it, not because I do not understand the significance of the day, I just wait for my own Easter, along with the ultimate Easter. Today is my day.

Because I’ve been saturated in the Christian world for so long I wonder if it is simply overexposure. I was born into the church, and have no memory of not being a Christian. Thus that transition is missing for me. So, the joy and celebration of Easter is something I taste, but have more contrived emotions in celebration than real excitement.

Of course I live the Easter life in part, the presence of the Holy Spirit in me is a result of Easter. Had Christ avoided the cross or not risen, the Holy Spirit would not have been sent. So, that is a consideration.

But, too much of me now identifies with those dark words of Wesley and others, who miss God even as they seek him the most. It is Saturday, and all I have to do is wait, and pray, and continue to believe. Christ, we say tomorrow, has risen indeed. So too he rises in each of our lives. That is the wonder of Biblical prophecy and imagery, it means more than it means, though it does not mean less. Christ and Easter are the history, the depth of the theology of the Faith, and yet they still speak to us, meaning more than just what they meant 1,970 years ago.

The disciples sat together in someone’s house, weeping and remembering, hoping that something would happen, not yet fully without hope, still lost in the sudden change. Saturday is the Sabbath. They were not allowed to work. So they waited. The women were ready to go to the tomb as soon as it turned light the next day, to do what they could, the next step they saw. That’s all I can do, the next step before me, whatever it is. For one day, I will be going about my tasks, and Easter will come, a power beyond me, changing all in an instant. He does make all things new, is making all things new.

Some thoughts I wrote in 2004

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Resurrection hope

In the experience of Christ, the resurrection gathers all people into the power of the messianic moment even now, as such people live in the light of the Spirit’s in-breaking of history. “Only the love which passionately affirms life understands the relevance of this hope, because it is through that that this love is liberated from the fear of death and the fear of losing its own self.”[1]

Rather than losing one’s own self, thus always anxious about the encroaching identity of others, feeling vulnerable and fragmented, thus easily subverted, the person who lives in the light of the resurrection is secure in their identity as being alive in Christ. The substance of Christ gives substance to each person, securing their future as participants with the open fellowship of God. This security frees people to live with openness in their particular contexts.

“The resurrection hope,” Moltmann writes, “makes people ready to live their lives in love wholly, and to say a full and entire Yes to a life that leads to death. It does not withdraw the human soul from bodily, sensory life; it ensouls this life with unending joy.”[2]

We can say yes to death only in light of resurrection hope, which allows us to no longer fear death nor be determined by false forms of identity that we think might protect us from death.

“In this resurrection dialectic, human beings don’t have to try to cling to their identity through constant unity with themselves, but will empty themselves into non-identity, knowing that from this self-emptying they will be brought back to themselves again for eternity.”[3]

The identity that Christ promises to his people, then, substantiates each particular person as a particular subject in God’s particular mission. They do not lose their identity, becoming a drone in a collective, rather the promise of resurrection is a process of becoming in full who a person was always intended to be.

The hope in God is hope in one’s own future in which identity is secured and blossoms into fullness. The resurrection leads a person past the work of the cross, in which history and the past finds resolution, and into the future where a person can truly be who they are in the community of others who are similarly becoming.

“Communion with Christ,” Moltmann writes, “the new being in Christ, proves to be the way for man to become man. In it, true human nature emerges, and the still hidden and unfulfilled future of human nature can be sought in it.”[1]

The goal of much oppression, to secure one’s own identity and power and position—to secure one’s self in a particular context and project one’s security into the future—invariably leads to death, and thus dissolution of that goal. That was the earliest deception of sin, the taking of the fruit to assert one’s own identity and bypassing God.

Only the way of the cross includes the path to resurrection, and only by participating with the crucified God do we then have a substantive hope for not only salvation from but indeed and more importantly, salvation into.

This salvation into includes those ultimate goals for which oppressing tends to be concerned—issues of fulfillment, identity formation, security. Because the cross entails the loss of identity, the resurrection is about more than resuscitation of that old identity into becoming a more successful version of the same.

Jesus does not valorize who we were but awakens us to new possibilities in accordance with who we were always meant to be. “For freedom,” Moltmann writes, “is nothing else than being open for the genuine future, letting oneself be determined by the future.” Yet, while the Spirit of resurrection can thus be called the power of the future, the resurrection is not futuram but an advent, a novum of new life, a new way of living.

This new way of living involves participating not in our determinative future but participating in Christ, “from the knowledge and recognition of that historic event of the resurrection of Christ which is the making of history and the key to it.”[3] The cross opens a person up to be a new person, emptying and forsaking, the resurrection is the promise of filling, of new life.

Thus, the resurrection “means recognizing in this event the latency of that eternal life which in the praise of God arises from the negation of the negative, from the raising of the one who was crucified and the exaltation of the one who was forsaken.”[4]

Hope is not static. Hope initiates movement.



This was a couple of  wee excerpts from my dissertation



[1] Moltmann, Coming of God , 66.

[2] Moltmann, Coming of God, 66.

[3] Moltmann, Coming of God, 67.

 

[1] Moltmann, Theology of Hope, 196.

[2] Obviously a statement like this would raise objections concerning the historicity of the Garden narrative. Whatever the historical basis, the narrative intent of the story was to assert a particular kind of action/response that is at the root of human alienation from God and self. It is this narrative intent that is my concern.

[3] Moltmann, Theology of Hope, 212. Cf. Moltmann, Theology of Hope, 229.

[4] Moltmann, Theology of Hope, 211.

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Happy New Year!

The New Year is upon us.

I’m not a very sentimental person, as you may have noticed, so while I would have loved to write a post looking back on the wonderful year that was 2011, it just doesn’t rise out of me. Despite my being a burgeoning historian, I don’t tend to dwell on my own personal history, spending most of my mental life anywhere from one week to ten years ahead of where I actually am. Maybe I have a wee retrospective in my at some point soon, especially as I’m gearing up for getting into a whole lot of writing again.

Here are a few small things that I am looking forward to in 2012:

1) Moving at least twice.
2) Writing, finishing and, ideally, turning in my dissertation.
3) Having our first baby.

These three are not exactly mutually exclusive, but they’re not really mutually conducive.

But I have hope. And more than hope, faith, and more than faith, love — for all three of these events and for the one I am sharing my life with throughout these events, and for the family on both sides that support, pray, and come alongside us. And for the building friendships that resonate from my past, from school, from church.

I look forward to 2012 with a lot of building excitement for the known, and unknown, possibilities. May God be with us in each moment and each movement!

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Merry Christmas to All!!

May your day be filled with hope and life, may you be filled with the peace that is the peace of life in the midst of struggle, the peace of hope in the midst of adversity. May this day be a day in which you rest in the light of the God who did not wait for you to put things right, but came to this world, seeking you and me out, running towards us in love, changing the history of this world, and all our futures, with a birth in a stable.

I wrote a bit more on the incarnation over at Clayfire, a post titled A Way in a Manger.

And Althouse is featuring a comment I made this morning about why we should celebrate Christmas.

Merry Christmas!!

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The Easter Hunt

“Did you ever do any of those big Easter egg hunts when you were little,” Amy asked me this week.

I got to thinking about this, and stumbled over an answer. I honestly don’t remember any, so either I didn’t do any or they were fairly forgettable affairs. The only Easter egg hunts I do remember were at the somewhat sprawling house and yard at my dad’s parents. There were only about five grandkids, so it wasn’t a big affair, though I guess it gave a little bit of the sense of that primary task of the event: the hunt. Plastic eggs, chocolates, candy, assorted other items and goodies are put in hard to find spots so that everyone is then sent off on their own quests to gather the most treasure.

“I didn’t like them,” Amy added. “My memories are of kids screaming, and fighting, and pushing.”

Everyone wants to gather the most, gather the best, both for their own sake and for the sake of showing everyone else. “Look what I got!” each one says, while at the same time triumphing over those who got less and feeling a fair bit jealous of those who have more. For the competitive ones, this is either a shining or a devastating moment. If there’s no built in balance, younger kids get muscled out or are simply too slow to gather up what is hidden.

To be sure, the adults are aware of this sort of imbalance. Oftentimes, nowadays, Easter egg hunts will be broken up into different ages. The younger the hunters, the much more readily apparent are the prizes. The adults will walk alongside and help. Kids sometimes know to take advantage of this help, playing the pose of the helpless needing guidance, simply because it is much easier for an adult to tell them rather than looking. But that doesn’t last for too many years. Because the hunt is the thing. Capturing the prize, getting the most chocolate, reveling in one’s found cache and feeling triumphant each time we find something that someone else hasn’t found.

With this in mind we encounter Easter. And in my mind Easter the religious holiday, indeed the whole of our spiritual life, is often very much the same sort of task as the Easter egg hunt.

We look for the hidden treasures. We scramble to know the most, find the most, sharing with others what we found but also competing with others about what they found. We sometimes like to triumph over, even if silently, those who know less, while we’re intimidated by, and maybe even jealous of, those who know more. We go to this service and to that service, we do this task and do that task. We put on our best suit or nicest dress, all as part of our going out and doing the tasks we think should be done. We get easily disappointed when we can’t find what we’re looking for, when we go out looking and our basket remains mostly empty. We see others gathering and finding, becoming filled. But we don’t. We get discouraged and may even quit looking. Those who are the most competitive are often the ones who find the most, get the most.

We come to Easter, so often, as hunters looking for our spiritual egg, this hidden egg that is the life and hope and trust of Christ in our life that might, somehow, bring peace to our frantic life. The kids scream and fight and push, all to find the best egg, the most eggs, so they can tell everyone what they found.

This can affect how we live. Because even though we might argue that we can’t find salvation through works, we really do have this inner sense that because the hunt is the thing, if we look harder, longer, farther, with more energy we’ll be able to find more salvation — more of those benefits of salvation that we think is part of the spiritual life.

So we spend our lives looking for the eggs. We ask people who we think are more advanced than us. We compete and we muscle other out, judging and being jealous in turn. The spiritual life becomes this constant frenzy of gathering more and more so that we can fill our basket and say, “Look what I found!”

I was thinking about this earlier this morning, and I realized something. We’re not the hunters. We’re the eggs.

Jesus finds us. Wherever we’re hidden, Jesus comes to us. We’re lost, he gathers us into his arms. That’s the story of the resurrection.
women at the tomb
Indeed, it might even be argued that the story of the cross is the result of what happens when we as people insist on hunting down Jesus. That’s seen most clearly in Gethsemene, but it’s also seen with Peter and the other disciples, who kept insisting they found a Messiah that matched their own expectations. They were searching for a Messiah, and they couldn’t ever really capture Jesus, and Jesus certainly wouldn’t let himself be gathered up in anyone’s basket. A whole group of people were so sure of what they were looking for that they missed the Messiah who was among them. They got caught up in the frenzy and they thought they were the ones to determine the prizes and the content of the hunt.

So Jesus died. And then he wasn’t dead. He rose again. This is where the story gets really interested because Jesus, the resurrected Christ, can’t be found. He finds.

The women go to the tomb. He’s not there. Keep looking, he’s not here, the young man says. He shows up in the garden to Mary Magdelene (a woman!). Peter and John go running back to the tomb to find the risen Lord. He’s not there. They do a lot of running back and forth, but they don’t find. Jesus finds them. Peter and John Running

That’s the message of the resurrection. All our work, all our worry, all our frenzied competition and anxious efforts are missing the point. “You are looking for Jesus. He isn’t here. Go tell the others.” On their way to tell the others, Jesus finds them. “Greetings!,” he says.

He shows up with the two fellows walking out of Jerusalem, chatting with them, eating with them. Just when they realize who he is (we found him!), he’s gone. He’s not found. He finds. They go to tell the others, and then Jesus finds them again with the others. on the road

The disciples go fishing. They catch nothing. They spend all night hunting. Nothing. They try all the techniques. Not a single fish. A guy on the beach sees them and tells them how to find the fish. Jesus found them, found the fish. Jesus is not found. He finds. He is the hunter. We are the eggs, the fish, the sheep who are hidden and lost.

This carries into the book of Acts. Jesus ascends into heaven. The disciples pray. Wait, Jesus tells them. Finally, finally, they listen. What they couldn’t do in Gethsemene they can do in the upper room, waiting, praying, and the Spirit finds them. The Spirit wasn’t evoked. The Spirit wasn’t hunted down. The Spirit finds.

All through Acts this is true. The Spirit shows up in all kinds of places, finding all kinds of people. The Spirit isn’t something we hunt for, spending our time in anxious techniques to find the Spirit in the right action or the right words or the right service or building. The Spirit isn’t found in the tombs. The Spirit isn’t found. The Spirit finds.
That’s the message of the resurrection. Pentecost
Jesus is not the object who is found in the tomb, but the risen Son who finds us wherever we are. He seeks us, the Spirit hunts us down, wherever we try to hide, whatever we think we have done, however well we might be hidden. There is no screaming, no pushing, no fighting. There is no competition because what is there to compete about? We can’t find what we are looking for because we look in the wrong place. We look in the tomb and the tomb is empty. We cannot find, because we are not the hunters.

The Son is out and about, and he is finding us.

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Holy Saturday

Some thoughts I wrote in 2004:

There is a slight haze in the sky, some stars shining through, many not. All is quiet, not a sound, odd for a holiday weekend. No wind, no movement. Perfectly still, the noise I make echoing through the silence.

I felt this a day of rest, and rested accordingly, going for a wonderful jog through the hills, enjoying the beauty of the day. My soul felt at ease, and I let it enjoy the feeling.

It is Saturday, between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. This day has more and more meaning to me as the years go by, some of which I’ve written about in other places, some of which still I reflect on.

This being a journal of my spirit and soul I think it’s good to say how much I identify with this day more than tomorrow or yesterday. I feel forgiven, I have no guilt, I do not feel the weight of my own sins. They have been released and I am a slave to nothing. And yet, I do not feel resurrected. The weight of life’s difficulties weighs on my soul, my doubts and confidence balance each other out, each gaining sway for their own time. I taste of new life, I do not dwell in new life. Much has begun, nothing is resolved. I live in utter faith that the work God has started in me will be finished, with wonderful results. There is no actual indication this is the case.

Indeed, with all of the pomp and celebration of Easter, I feel myself distant from it, not because I do not understand the significance of the day, I just wait for my own Easter, along with the ultimate Easter. Today is my day.

Because I’ve been saturated in the Christian world for so long I wonder if it is simply overexposure. I was born into the church, and have no memory of not being a Christian. Thus that transition is missing for me. So, the joy and celebration of Easter is something I taste, but have more contrived emotions in celebration than real excitement.

Of course I live the Easter life in part, the presence of the Holy Spirit in me is a result of Easter. Had Christ avoided the cross or not risen, the Holy Spirit would not have been sent. So, that is a consideration.

But, too much of me now identifies with those dark words of Wesley and others, who miss God even as they seek him the most. It is Saturday, and all I have to do is wait, and pray, and continue to believe. Christ, we say tomorrow, has risen indeed. So too he rises in each of our lives. That is the wonder of Biblical prophecy and imagery, it means more than it means, though it does not mean less. Christ and Easter are the history, the depth of the theology of the Faith, and yet they still speak to us, meaning more than just what they meant 1,970 years ago.

The disciples sat together in someone’s house, weeping and remembering, hoping that something would happen, not yet fully without hope, still lost in the sudden change. Saturday is the Sabbath. They were not allowed to work. So they waited. The women were ready to go to the tomb as soon as it turned light the next day, to do what they could, the next step they saw. That’s all I can do, the next step before me, whatever it is. For one day, I will be going about my tasks, and Easter will come, a power beyond me, changing all in an instant. He does make all things new, is making all things new.

And something I wrote in 2008:

This is one of the more unusual days in the religious calendar. Friday is the crucifixion, that day in which we say that our sins were cleansed by the sacrifice of the Lamb. He took on the burden so we would not.

Tomorrow we celebrate the resurrection, the time in which death itself lost its sting, so that we who are of the Faith fear Sheol no more. To live is Christ, Paul says, and to die is gain. Death is but a transition from life to Life.

Saturday, today, is in between. Why didn’t Jesus come out on the Sabbath? Was it out of respect for the Law? Sunday had no special relevance until he made it so. Yes, the prophecies mention three days… why? Christ is not beholden to the prophecies, they are beholden to him. A curious consideration, and unknowable.

What were the disciples thinking? The Twelve, the others? Years of their lives had been spent with the man now dead. They could not return home, for traveling was forbidden for the most part. So they stayed, their lives lost, dead even though still alive. Already Christ had died on this day, he had not yet risen. They didn’t know he would. He told them, but they didn’t understand.

How many cursed Christ on this day for being deceitful? How many felt really bad about it after he rose again?

We live in the middle of the three days of the Passion, the time between times, Christ has come, Christ will come again. Already, not yet. Hoped for realities which are not apparent, no longer slaves to sin though sinners indeed, free and not free, alive and not alive, strong and weak, hopeful and fearful, that is our state. Yes, keeping the eye on the end is what helps us through the now, transforming our perspective even in the present so as to anticipate the future, letting us see time beyond time while we walk through time.

But we are living in the Saturday, the day between a day and a day, in which we expect everything and feel the loss of everything. Christ has told us what to expect, but we don’t really understand or believe it… just look at our lives, our hearts.

Saturday is an awkward day, neither here nor there. And so, it is a day of rest.

For a lot of reasons Holy Saturday is my most precious religious holiday. It is the one which I live with and the one which suits my soul. This is Holy Saturday. This is the day that reflects the present stanza of my inner liturgy. My whole life thus far is lived on this Saturday. Christ has died. May Christ be resurrected in my life, in the life of those around me. May the peace of God come into our hearts, and help us wait patiently for the fullness of Christ to enter our world for all eternity. Amen and amen.

It is Saturday, however, and all we have on this day is a promise. Such is our lives, such is my life. Praise be to the Three-in-One.

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