Holy, Holy Saturday
March 20, 2015
In our tradition, we mark Holy Week, the last week of Jesus’ earthly life, with sharp contrasts. On Sunday (Palm or Passion Sunday), we witness Jesus, bold as can be, processing into Jerusalem on a donkey. Palm leaves are strewn before him. The crowd of people surrounding him already know him. They are the ones who sat on the hillside to hear him teach. They are the people who brought their children to Jesus so that he could cure them. These are the mothers and fathers who worried about feeding their families, about staying out of the way of the Empire.
On Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday), we celebrate the Last Supper of Jesus and his friends. They gather in secret, in some upper room. Women work all day to prepare the meal, which is their final Passover together. These days, we focus on the gift which Jesus presents to those who celebrated that meal – Holy Communion. Breaking bread, the words come clearly: “This is my body, which will be broken for you.” Then, after the supper, “This my blood, which will be shed for you.” Finally, we recall the invitation to a promise: “Do this in memory of me.”
After what we call “Good Friday,” when the world is turned upside down with the suffering and death of Jesus, we go home in silence, stunned, unable to sort out the range of emotions – accepting Jesus, hearing him, clinging to him, then losing him.
Saturday, all is quiet. While contemporary shoppers run around buying food and goods for Easter celebration, we can choose another way. We can in some way, sit in silence, facing the East, waiting for the sun to rise on Easter morning, knowing what that means for us, as it has meant for all those who followed Jesus. Find a few moments to sit and wait, if you can. Find a time to just be there, thinking over why Easter means so much to you, what it’s like to know about Jesus from the stories of others, and what it means to take those stories to heart, and tell them to others by the way we live.
Storms pass, winds subside
See how the cottonwoods trees
spread new leaves,
fill the blank sky with
as waving vines praise
the living spirit
for soon the shrouded sun will flame
through constraining mists
and in glory rise to complete
this forgiven world
and set it free. (Steven Federle)