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Friday, April 10, 2009

The In-between Saturday

Yesterday was Good Friday. We enjoyed a powerful service that walked us through the Passion of Christ. Through the music of our choir, the stringed instruments (violin, viola, cello, guitar, base), percussion, saxophone and piano set alongside the scripture readings that revealed the last days of Jesus' life, we were led to the cross with emotion and power. Doug preached on Sabachthani, meaning forsaken, and reminded us that because Christ was forsaken in his death, we will never ever be forsaken by God. That's why Good Friday is good. It's good for us, who though imperfect are made whole through the death of Christ. The words of Isaiah 53 set the tone for the entire day: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed." 6 black candles placed on the front altar were extinguished one by one throughout the course of the service and 4 long stem red roses sitting in front of the altar cross created a stark visual reminder of Christ's suffering and death. Afterwards we departed in silence and were left wanting. For this one day, we allowed the heaviness of confronting our sin while seeking to understand both our need for forgiveness as well as the price that has been paid for our forgiveness to linger and sink in a bit. We leave with feelings of longing, anxious for the glory and praise of Easter morning to break through.
But first we have to live through Saturday. As I consider how painful this in-between day must've been for Jesus' followers, I am made aware of the places we ourselves live in the "in-between". I am acutely aware this Easter of our friend whose husband died in November. Their first Easter without husband and father. All this talk of the glory of the resurrection when their beloved is no longer with them. I think of those for whom life is tough. A friend's 15 year old nephew had brain surgery last week to remove a tumor. Although it was benign, it's been a rough road for the family. I am aware of the professional baseball player from my favorite team in Southern California whose life was cut short on Thursday by a drunk driver. 24 years old. How searing is that pain for his family, his team, his community? I know the pain of chronic and fatal illness. I understand the brokenness of relationships and the longings of loneliness. Doug is headed out to a service of commemoration with our Rwandan community as it has been 15 years since that horrific massacre unfolded in their homeland. For many, perhaps life feels perpetually like the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Christ is dead. Our hopes have been dashed. What is there is to look forward to anyway?
Yes...sometimes life feels like the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. And yet...we know that Easter Sunday comes, faithfully, assuredly, gloriously, not to remove the pain and suffering, but to redeem it. Easter Sunday will dawn anew and the power of sin and sorrow and sadness will be overcome. The darkness shall once again be pierced with the Light of Christ and nothing shall over take it. But that's getting ahead of ourselves for today. Today, we live with the pain that life brings, but we live with it knowing that Christ too lived with pain. He suffered unthinkable pain on our behalf and so today, on this Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, let that be your comfort...that Christ has entered into your pain and suffering. God doesn't end our suffering, but He definitely enters into it with us. So, if your pain is searing on this Saturday, may the knowledge that Christ knows your pain bring you comfort. And may the anticipation of his conquering death be your peace.
It's hard to live on Saturday. And yet, so many do. But we must remember that Sunday is coming. Saturday does not have the final word. And it is in this truth that we can rejoice, even while the darkness hovers for awhile.