Holy Saturday, April 20, 2019
“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting in front of the tomb.” ~Matthew 27:61
Friends, Greetings to you on this Holy Day-Holy Saturday. Let your imagination take you back in time, imagine being with the disciples and other followers of Jesus and grieve with them. The person they had followed and had abandoned everything in their lives for, was dead. They watched in agony as the Roman soldiers crucified him on a wooden cross. He was mocked and shamed and worst of all, he was completely innocent. It is very difficult indeed to imagine this event yet we know it is true. I’ve watched several movies made depicting the crucifixion and the Mel Gibson film, “The Passion of Christ” has been the most difficult for me to watch as its cinematography is so real, it reaches out and touches all the human senses.
Today, as believers we know the rest of the story but those who were there with Jesus did not. The grieved, they mourned, they were confused and they were angry. They did not understand or comprehend all that Jesus had told them about events that were happening. Not much has changed over the centuries when it comes to death, we still grieve and mourn and ask questions. We also continue to practice similar rituals if you will, like watching and waiting. I’ve attended several funerals and many have the same practices along with specific cultural variations. A common ritual is seeing the body, a reality check and convincing ourselves that the person is really gone. At funerals, people come to support the family members and to share common stories and to show respect for the person who had passed. In my personal opinion, it is a celebration, celebrating the life of the person who passed and validating their existence and the impact they had on individuals and their communities. It was difficult for me to accept the passing of my mom, as it is for others, I’m not special in that regard. The stages of grief are the same but the way in which we each process them is different and that’s ok. God is with each one of us at whichever stage we are going through. There’s no right way or wrong way to progress through the stages, just be you and lean on Jesus and the support of friends and family. It’s been nearly seven years since I last saw my mom, I remember the day, the time, the event, the circumstance, the place, the words and that final “i love you” and the last hug and embrace. I can sometimes almost hear her laugh as in the distance. I miss our Saturday afternoon phone calls. I also remember getting “the call”, the time, the place, my actions and my response. I remember wanting to see her, convince myself it was true. By the time I reached my parents home several of my relatives were already there but, my mom was gone. She had not just died but her body was gone as well and to make the situation worse, I was not allowed to view her body until three days later at the funeral. At the time I remember my aunt Helen telling me it was for the best but I didn’t think so. Years later, I’m glad that my last memories are of the hug and embrace and hearing “i love you.” It’s a blessing I never saw coming but I’m so thankful for now.
Friends, do not rush through today because you know the joy that comes tomorrow. Let’s sit with the events that unfolded long ago, contemplate and ponder a savior who died. Rest and wrestle with the hopelessness, for it is there that new life can truly emerge.
These are the last recorded words of Jesus written in the Gospels:
Here’s two references to the Old Testament book of Psalm from Matthew and Mark:
Breath Prayer: Stay with me…as I keep watch.