The Sting

On a rocky hill, the crowds have dissipated. A Roman commander sits on this bed, head in his hands, nauseous and thankful for solid ground. The brown, perfumed body of a carpenter is sealed behind a boulder. Two women sit in stunned silence across the rock. They are cried out; their faces dry and stoic.

Elsewhere, a man wakes his best friend’s mother from a fitful sleep. She thinks not of sustenance but of stables and sheep, though she can still taste the peeled hard boiled eggs and lentil soup from her previous night. The two repeat the Tziduk Hadin. The rock is something they can cling to. She gets up and takes her position on a stool in the entry way of the house. Greeters come, bringing her baskets of food. She says all the right words, but feels the emptiness she did all those years ago, when she lost her son at the temple. Perhaps she too cries out to God. Perhaps she feels forsaken.

A curtain flaps in the wind. The spirit of the Holy One seeps out through the tear. It is coming, will be swallowed down in gulps of river water, illuminating darkness, strengthening, sustaining, challenging. But before the Hope comes there is weeping. And silence. And food given to a grieving mother staying in the house of her son’s friend.

Friday offers us a portrait of forgiveness and difficult grace. Sunday offers us hope and a challenge. But Saturday gives us nothing but ritual. Saturday gives us a guard and grief. It gives us silence from God and our textual fathers. It is the cliff hanger that lingers just long enough to trick ourselves into believing that we know the ending. It is hopeless and unsure.

It’s easy to preach about Sunday because it feels good. Sunday is where each of us wants to be. But the reality for many of us is Saturday. It’s doubting and waiting for fruition. No one asks for Saturday yet it is given to us just the same. This Easter, if you can only see until Midnight on Saturday, there’s a place for you in the message of the Gospel. Sunday is coming, eventually, but remember this:

Sunday is only miraculous because the depravity of Saturday was so real.

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