The strands of O Sacred Head Now Wounded from yesterday’s Good Friday Service still waft in and out of my memory. The opening notes of tomorrow’s Christ Arose have not yet been played. I live, for a while, on the day with no name.
O all the days of Holy Week, this is perhaps the most poignant. Good Friday is tragic. Easter joyful. But the Saturday between is one of sad and strange silence. Our catholic friends hold no mass that day, and I know of no protestant church that holds a service. It is a simply a day between the agony of the cross and the triumph of the empty tomb.
My mind goes back to the disciples and followers of Jesus on the day after the cross. I wonder what strange mix of emotions swirled in their minds. How could they reconcile these two undeniable facts: that the one they called Jesus spoke words and did deeds that could only be described as divine, yet this same Jesus had just been crucified as a common criminal by the rich and powerful? Which was the real Jesus, the one who had power over the waves and demons and even death, or the one mocked, cursed and subject to death?
We, of course, who live on this side of Easter know the answer: Jesus’s humiliating death was not the denial of all that he taught, but the fulfillment of it, and the work and message of Jesus were validated by the resurrection. But they did not see that yet. On that strange Saturday, they could only try to make some sort of sense of the great gap between the glory of the message and the inglorious death of the messenger.
It occurs to me that we too live with the same dynamic of that sad and strange Saturday of old. We have heard and read the glorious things that Jesus said and did. We conclude like the Roman soldier who was sent to arrest Jesus: “No man ever spoke like this!” We hear the promises of a new creation, in which the glory and beauty of God fill the earth like the water fills the seas. But we don’t see this glory and beauty. Far from it. Our experience seems so far removed from the promise. Yes, we, too, live on Saturday. We live between the cross and the crown. Yes, we live after Jesus’ resurrection, but before our own, and before the day when He comes and restores and glorifies all things. We have the promises, but we must wait to see them lived out. And in this waiting we yearn for the promise to be fulfilled. We hunger for injustice and evil to be defeated. We crave the beauty and glory of God’s glorious kingdom, and even God’s presence. But our hunger is unsatiated. The great test of our faith, then, is this: will the growing hunger make us turn away in frustration, or create in us a deeper anticipation and love for the things that will be?
Lord Jesus, help me this day, and all my days, to be found as one waiting and watching, for that glorious day, the greater Easter, when you not only return in your resurrected body, but share that resurrection with all those who are found in you. Amen.