I begin this post with a confession, for yearsI have seldom enjoyed the holy week and Easter time in church. It is not something I look forward to, in part because it seems every year is the same message without addressing the realities of our world. And there is definitely an element to me that feels very inauthentic among everyone who shows up. And yet, this year I felt something I have never felt before during this season. I have been reading Walter Brueggemann’s devotions for Lent titled A Way Other Than Our Own. His reflection on Holy Saturday (the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday) was striking to me.
He begins with devotion with these words:
“Nobody knew how long Saturday would last. Nobody knew if Saturday would ever end. So it is now as well. Nobody knows how long Saturday will last or if it will ever end. Saturday is that in-between day of stillness and doubt and despair when time stands still in lethal flatness. The old Saturday was about abandonment and disappointment at the far edge of the crucifixion. And then came all the Saturdays of fear and abusiveness, of the crusades and the ovens and genocides in too many places. And then came our particular Saturdays of Katina and 9/11 and economic collapse, Saturdays of overwhelming failure with no adequate resources.”
We seldom talk about the Saturday during Holy Week. The day where Jesus remains dead. I remember walking around this past Saturday and being overwhelmed with what has been happening in the world: chemical weapons were used on Syrians, our country launched 59 missiles on Syria, the threats from both sides in regards to North Korea, and the US dropping a 21,000 bomb that cost millions of dollars to make and then seeing people celebrate the use of bombs and violence to kill others. It was a heavy week and a very long Saturday (to use the words of Brueggemann). With all that was happening, with the fear and threats of more violence, here I was walking on this Holy Saturday remembering that this is a day we remember that Christ is not alive. It was truly frightening. It the midst of all that is happening in our world and in our country to walk around knowing that on this day in the Christian calendar we remember that the one who rejected violence, called us to be peace makers, who was God incarnate and taught us to serve all people and love our enemies (not bomb them) is dead.
It was terrifying to think of facing such issues without the presence of God in our midst. As Easter come it was quite a comfort to know that Jesus is now alive and meets with his followers, and proceeds to invite us to not accept the world as it is but to join in the continual work of God so that hopefully one day we do not have to mourn about the devastating affects of violence, but celebrate God’s shalom as all people live in peace and well-being.
Our Easter experience is robbed if we don’t acknowledge the reality of our current world and remember that the resurrection invites us to a passionate response of kingdom living. To end with Brueggemann’s devotion on Easter Day “Imagine you and I, today, are a part of the Easter movement of civil disobedience that contradicts the empire. Let’s see what happens. Let’s see if life is longer than death. Some will never move and will keep trusting in the empire. But we know this much: we have been breathed on. We have been addressed. To us he said, ‘Peace be with you.’ He said it three times, and then he charged us with forgiveness. We are on the receiving end of his offer of life…Praise God!”