Holy Saturday- What Do You Do When Nothing Is Happening?

Is there such a thing as Holy Saturday? Good Friday has come and gone. Jesus was arrested, tired, crucified, has died and is buried. Easter Sunday is a whole day away. So where does that leave us on the Saturday of Holy week? Do we just skip over this day entirely and go about our normal lives until Sunday?

You could, but if do you’ll miss a lot. Let’s put ourselves into the sandals of the first disciples, on that first Holy Saturday. What are they doing?

Before I tell you that, first let me tell you what they are not doing.

They are not holding any candlelight prayer vigils. As far as they know they have nothing left to watch over. Their master is dead and buried.

They also are not telling each other that everything will be alright, that this was all part of the plan. Because it wasn’t, at least not their plans. Their plans required Jesus to be very much alive, and crowned king of Jerusalem.

On that first Holy Saturday there was no hope, no comfort, and no sense that anything would get better. The shock and numbness of Friday begin dissipate the pain and sorrow of Saturday began to set in. On that first Holy Saturday those who had followed Jesus were simply wondering ‘now what’?

I can honestly say I have felt trapped in a Holy Saturday moment before. Times where I look for action, but I find stillness. Where I search for answers but I find silence. Where I look for comfort but I only see more cold hard reality. I have lived months of such Holy Saturdays, and I suspect that I am not alone.

I think we have all found our way to Saturday moments like this. Moments when we realize everything we counted on, everything we dreamed about everything we hoped for has crumbled. Moments when the heavens are silent, our enemies are celebrating, and the whole world just seems dark and cold.

What do we do on such Saturdays, or Saturmonths, or Saturyears, or Saturlifetimes? The disciples had no idea that by days end on Sunday most of them would see Jesus alive again. They had no idea that their sadness was about to be overturned.

This is something that can give us courage and strength. Because likewise we do not know when Sunday will dawn and our Saturday will end. Maybe we just have to hang in for a few more days. Or maybe we have to hang in for the rest of our lives.

Either way the promise of God is the same, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’

Please don’t think that I am making light of your pain. I am not. I don’t pretend to know what hurts you carry or for how long you have had to carry them. All I know is you will not have to carry them for eternity.

On that first Holy Saturday God appeared silent, and Jesus appeared defeated. But it only appeared to be that way. Much was happening behind the scenes. Right now as we each carry our own hurts and scars we can take comfort in knowing that much is happening behind the scenes.

Even though it is Saturday now, Sunday is on the way.

Holy Saturday

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Holy Week- Good Friday- Whats So Good About It?

Today we have reached Good Friday. A dark and hard day to be sure. A day of suffering, a day of pain, a day of death. Justice is abused. Goodness disregarded. Courage evaporates. Friendship fails. Tears and blood are shed. It seems like sin, sadness and death have won. The light of the world was snuffed out.

Given all of this, have you ever wondered why we call today ‘Good Friday’?

Let me ask you a question; how do you describe what happened to Jesus today? Did Jesus die? Was Jesus murdered? Did Jesus sacrifice himself?

Perhaps when you read the words; die, murdered, and sacrifice you think ‘what’s the difference? Couldn’t I say all of these things happened, aren’t those words in this situation more or less synonyms?’ 

In one sense yes you could say all of those words describe what happened to Jesus. Only a very few serious historians deny that Jesus died on Good Friday. However I have found that when tragedy happens people don’t only want to know what happened they want to know why it happened.

Which leaves us with two other descriptors, murder and sacrifice. So is murder the best descriptor for what happened to Jesus or is sacrifice?

At first glance murder has a lot going for it. Jesus was arrested at night by a mob, changed with false allegations, dragged through a kangaroo court, and then put to death. When we examine what the motivation behind these horrendous acts was we find they are motivated by fear and jealousy. Many of the religious leaders of the day were jealous of the crowds that were following Jesus. While others seemed to be legitimately afraid of what Rome might do if they though Jesus was amassing followers to stage a revolt.

The religious leaders feared Jesus would lead the people away from them. Which made them fear that Rome would see Jesus’ followers as a threat and send in the troops. Herod feared for his kingdom. And Pilate feared the mob of people calling for Jesus to be put to death. A case could be made that jealousy, and fear prompted a handful of men to have Jesus murdered.

Except for one thing.

Jesus made it clear that while it seemed like others had power over him, it only seemed that way. No one could ‘put him to death’ without his permission.

This statement of Jesus moves us away from the vocabulary of murder and moves us into the vocabulary of sacrifice. When you scan the New Testament you will find that the language of a willing sacrifice is very prominent, whereas the language of murder is not.

Jesus’ own words make this point even clearer, ‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.’

Death and sin, pain and suffering, didn’t win on Good Friday, only to have their victory overturned on Easter. Death and sin, pain and suffering, became tools of salvation in God’s hands. When people thought they were bringing destruction, defeating Jesus they really were bringing salvation, completing Jesus’ mission on earth.

Today is Good Friday because when Jesus sacrificed himself death and sin, pain and suffering were conquered. God’s love and mercy won the battle through Jesus Christ.

I don’t know about you, but I’d call that good!

Today as you take time to reflect on Good Friday ask yourself; ‘Am I loving others as Christ commanded? Am I laying down my life everyday in service to others?’

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Holy Week- Maundy Thursday- What’s For Supper?

We have now reached Thursday of Holy Week, or as some know it by Maundy Thursday. Today is the day that Jesus shared his Last Supper with his disciples.

Jesus was the host, he made the arrangements, and he had a lot to do any say in a very short window of time. The last supper may well be the most important dinner party the world has ever known.

I really enjoy the way Matthew tells the story. Things unfold as we come to expect. Bread is broken, wine is poured, Jesus predicts his death, and everyone swears their loyalty to Jesus up to and including their own deaths.

But buried in this familiar passage is some of the most amazing news humanity has ever been given; a new covenant.

During one of Israel’s lowest points, when their very survival seemed to be threatened, God promised that he would one day make a new covenant, a different covenant with his people. This covenant would be internal, not external. They would not be given a new set of rules to follow but a heart ready to serve God.

And a new heart is something that we desperately need. If we were to scan the our news feeds on any given day and what would we find? We find stories of poverty, of sickness, of war, of violence, of greed, of injustices of all kinds.

It seems obvious that humanity has a heart problem. And Jesus is offering a heart solution. Not more rules. Not more rituals. Not even more religion. Jesus is offering more of himself, he is offering more God.

The promise of the new covenant is one of the most beautiful verses in the bible, ‘I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbour, nor say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

As Jesus broke the bread and poured the wine he said that this covenant begins now, and that it begins with him. He would make it possible for us to have new hearts, and he would make it possible for us to be made right with God.

As you go about your day today and your stomach inevitably reminds you that you are hungry, take time and reflect on all Jesus said and did at the Last Supper. Likewise next time you take communion remember how much more was given that night then a little bread and wine.

Recieving Communion #2