The Sabbath has arrived

“The Sabbath has arrived. Jesus is dead and buried.”

That’s how I ended my last Good Friday post. As I continue my musings on Saturday on this year’s Saturday that phrase sticks with me more than it has in years past.

It’s a contrast. It’s a paradox.

The Sabbath is here. That day in which God rested after 6 days of work, a day mandated for rest, for peace. The Great Sabbath is a symbol of God’s eschatological accomplishment. In other words, the idea of the Sabbath reaches from the beginning of history, through history as part of the Law, and then expands in meaning to include God’s eternal community at the end of all.

It is an end. The end of a week. The end of a work. The end of history.

Saturday, this Holy Saturday, is the end of Jesus. Jesus is dead and buried. Truly so. Wholly so. Jesus is in the tomb on this Saturday that follows Good Friday.

The Sabbath even though it is an end, is not a day where hope has ended. It is not the day of defeat. The Sabbath is, as it always has been, the day of rest.

We who know that Easter came 2000 years ago might easily dismiss this Sabbath as irrelevant, unimportant, without emotional meaning. Because of Easter, Friday is good and Saturday is holy. It’s our liturgical habit.

But, I think it is too easy to think of Easter as a liturgical day. Which is maybe why I like to ponder Saturday so much. It still provokes pondering. Indeed, I think Saturday is important in our present lives because our present lives still have not, for the most part, encountered Easter. We’re still slogging our way through this life and through this world in a history in which we far too often seem caught up in rather than impacting and shaping. We are, it might be said, far too often victims of a history that is outside of our control, pushed and prodded and compelled to live outside of the ideal. Some people, to be sure, have more of the ideal going for them than others. But, I think it is those who are caught up in history’s torrents who more fully understand the meaning of poor in spirit.

They realize, daily, what it means to carry a cross, losing hope in what they have seen and experienced, even as they try desperately to hold onto what they thought they had been taught. The teachings are lost in what happened–it doesn’t go like it should go. Confused, disheartened, demoralized, giving more than so many others, seeing less. Where else could we go? But now… on Saturday, where is there to go at all?

Jesus is dead and buried.

The Sabbath has arrived.

This the day of rest, of hope, of peace, of restoration. This day where all the hopes have been lost is the day hope is still most present. This day where faith seemed to be shown as empty, is the day where faith is the most full.

Saturday. He has not yet risen.

But he will.

We who live on the day of Saturday are caught between two opposing forces. Everything says abandon hope–and just find a peace in this present hell. God says rest. It is the Sabbath, after all. So rest. Rest in God’s reality. Rest in holy, wholly, peace. Jesus is dead and buried. Yeah. So what? That doesn’t change a thing.

Rest. In all the worries of this fractured world. Rest. In all the panic of life’s misfortunes. Rest. In discouragement, frustration. Rest. In the face of unrealized dreams. Rest. Not because we have seen it. Because of God and his promise.

“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”

We have seen, have lived, the events of Friday. It is now Saturday. So we rest.

Rest in hope. Our task for all our life on this oh-so-long Saturday.

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