Saturday, April 4, 2015

Holy Saturday (Peter's Hope)

The beautiful thing about Holy Saturday is the silence.  The ironic thing about this Holy Saturday is that I am breaking mine.  At least, a little.

A year ago on Holy Saturday I wrote a brief reflection simply titled 'Peter' - it has remained here on my site as the lead post ever since.  At least, until today.  I can't say that I actually intended for it to work out this way, although I can say that there are many ways in which I am glad that it did.

Holy Saturday.  Many institutional churches hold Easter Egg Hunts today (although curiously the institutional church I currently work for does not).  I can't say I blame the ones that do.  They attract crowds (and the institutional church is all about being 'attractional'), are fun for kids, and have a 'big event' feel - they certainly are a celebration, and people do like celebrations.  I know I do.  So please don't misunderstand - I am not going to spend the next several paragraphs ripping Easter Egg Hunts a new one.  I find it's better if we invest our time explaining what we are for rather than what we are against, even though there is a time for both, to be sure (and sometimes we do have to detail what we are not in order to best explain what we are).

They say (whoever 'they' are) that 'silence is golden.'  If that means silence is incredibly valuable, I agree.  But silence is much better than gold. 

Holy Saturday is silence.  Jesus is dead.  If this was God's 'big plan' to save the world by sending a Messiah, it didn't work out so well.  For Peter and the other disciples, this was almost 4 years of their lives, seemingly wasted. 

Holy Saturday is rest.  Saturday is the original 'Sabbath Day,' you know.  Christians eventually changed the religious observance of the Sabbath to Sunday.  But that is not how it always was (even though many institutional churches would like you to believe so, that you might increase their attendance numbers, and perhaps offering numbers, too).  Death is long-term rest.  And Jesus is dead.

Why, especially in western-American culture, and especially in the western-American church, do we value noise and busyness so highly? 

Oh, believe me, I love a loud, rockin' concert, or a day at an amusement park, or a week (or three) in Florida, "vacationing 'till I drop."  And I am really good under pressure and deadlines (perhaps too good for my own good at times...one shouldn't have to depend on the pressure to get things done!).  But I have also learned the incredible value of rest, and continue to learn it.  Our culture does not value rest.  Sadly, neither do our institutional churches, which are a reflection of our culture.  If you associate with an institutional church of any size, check out their master calendar some time.  No.  Room.  For.  Rest.  "We've got to be busy for the Lord!"

What exactly was it again that Jesus should have been doing on Holy Saturday that would have been a better use of his time?  What exactly was it on the seventh 'day' of creation that God was supposed to be doing instead of wasting his time resting?

In high school our youth group choir did several musicals and choir tours, and I reminded of a line from one of the songs we did: "Tell me, can you hear him, through the noise?"

So many Christians and so many churches say they want the power and presence of Holy Spirit to be at work in them, that they desire to know 'God's will,' that they want to hear 'God's word' to them - but to put it bluntly, and to borrow a line from Run-D.M.C. (yes, I'm reaching way back, now), "you talk too much - you never shut up."

There is a time to talk.  And even to shout!  There is also a time to shut up listen.

Holy Saturday is one such time.

It's why I wrote this post two days ago and scheduled it for today, because I've 'said' almost more than enough for such a day as this.

It's deathly quiet, isn't it Peter?  Let your racing mind slow down.  Stop running.  They'll be ample time for that, soon enough - sooner than you might expect. 

Listen.

Can you hear him?  He's dead.  And he is speaking louder than ever in a whisper you cannot yet perceive. 

Keep listening. 

The Celebration, it's a comin'.  But it's hardly worth celebrating unless you've heard what can only be heard in the silence, even when it is imperceptible.

Rest on this Holy Sabbath.

Rest.  And listen.

This is the hope of the dead.  This is Peter's hope.  And it is our hope as well.

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