Saturday, May 10, 2014

God With Us, Us with God

Sermon for Holy Saturday 2014

God with Us, Us with God

On Holy Saturday we wait at the tomb.
We wait.
We pray.
We think about the death of Jesus
and we also ponder our own deaths.
Because we will die one day.
All of us.

Christ has died
but Christ has not yet risen.
On this day it is beyond our theological comprehension
that Christ will come again.

All we can do is show up, be present.
and pray
and be present.

There is a story told by Joseph Bayly
in a book he wrote titled A VIEW FROM THE HEARSE.
Mr. Bayly lost three children to death over the short course
of a few years.

He writes this about comforting those who grieve:

“I was sitting, torn by grief. Someone came and talked to me of God’s dealings, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave. He said things I knew were true. I was unmoved, except to wish he would go away. He finally did.

Someone else came and sat beside me. He didn’t talk. He didn’t ask leading questions. He just sat with me for an hour or more, listened when I said something, answered briefly, prayed simply, left. I was moved. I was comforted. I hated to see him go.”

Holy Saturday is not a day
to try to determine the WHY of or explain the crucifixion.
Christ has died.
That is all that we have on this day.

Holy Saturday is a day to be present.
To not get so overly busy with our preparations for Easter

(and yes, I know there are things that must get done this day)
but to take at least  a little time
to be fully present
sitting at the tomb.
Sitting with total emptiness.

Just as the word “Emmanuel” means GOD WITH US,
perhaps there should be a special term
for Holy Saturday that translates

Us with God.
That we are willing
to show up,
to sit,
to be present
at the tomb.

Traditionally this day is known as the harrowing of Hell.
Hell used in this context is not a place of judgement
it is the abode of those who have died--
all the way back to Adam and Eve.
In the Apostle’s Creed we say that Christ.... suffered,
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended to the dead...

Christ has gone down in the grave,
has gone down into the pit of Hell,
and reaches out to pull anyone who will grab his hand
out of that pit.

When we are willing to sit with someone
who grieves,
someone who feels they have lost everything,
someone who feels they have done despicable things
of which they are truly sorry
but cannot believe they deserve any kind of salvation--
our silent presence
is how we reach out,
offer a hand,
to help someone climb out of the depths of despair.
Out of the pit of grief and sorrow,
of fear and shame and hopelessness.

And just maybe
when we sit in the quiet of this Holy Saturday,
we will realize
that we, too, have been offered a hand
to climb out of our own dark pit,
to rise again--soon to rise again--
to the newness of life.


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