Luke 23: 56
“…On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
If you have any familiarity with the accounts in the Gospels about the events around Jesus’ death and resurrection, you know that there are interesting differences between them. Much as there are whenever we recount important events. This fact of difference makes the places of agreement all the more worthy of note. In all four Gospels, the movement of events is “interrupted” by sabbath. As the sun sets on what we call, “Good Friday,” Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross and laid in a borrowed tomb by a disciple named Joseph of Arimathea. Then everyone went home. It was the Sabbath. They returned to their homes and waited a whole day before they would set out to deal with remains of Good Friday. Instead, on that first 3rd day, they would find the signs of a New Day.
I remember the night my mother died. It was late into the night when she breathed her last in the hospital bed in the living room of my parent’s home. My father and all of my siblings were gathered around. When it was finished, we called the Funeral Director. He said he would come right away. We waited. Mostly in silence. We were bowed down with grief and depleted by weeks of anticipation of a moment we didn’t want to come. She certainly didn’t—she was a young 75. My mother was a person of deep faith and devotion. But she was not going to participate in any farewell ritual. There would be no intimations of her being beckoned to the “other side” by those who had gone on before. She breathed her last with furrowed brow and through clenched teeth—not speaking, never opening her eyes. From all appearances, she wasn’t experiencing physical pain—she was mounting a final resistance. She raged against the dying of the light. The silence that followed was deafening. Death takes our breath away. Time stands still.
As the living, sooner or later we all find ourselves on the backside of death…the day after. Because of the Story we call Easter, we live by faith that it is also the day before…that there is a 3rd to come. In the meantime, we keep company together on this 2nd Day. That’s where we dwell in this world. Good Friday’s come and go, but Saturday remains. And we wait.
But here, on this day, we rehearse again and again the dawning of the 3rd Day—most explicitly and dramatically on Easter Sunday. But it’s part of every First Day of the week we gather. The air of an anticipation borne of faith, hope, and love is never absent. It’s always there in the background, encompassing us, holding us, holding all. We keep company to keep faith. Then we return to our homes to live, in every way we know how, in anticipation of that 3rd Day.
And from time to time, the signs of a New Day become visible and we give thanks.
Prayer: Gracious God, dwell with us as we dwell together in this 2nd day. Keep us awake to all that has been, all that is, and all that is yet to be. Amen.