I have often viewed this time between Good Friday and Easter as Dead Saturday (also known as Nothing Saturday, Dark Saturday or Holy Saturday) and typically I spend the hours feeling depressed and morose while contemplating the death of Christ. I am not the only one as I discovered (yet again) while reading a friend’s status and subsequent comment thread posted this morning on Facebook:
I agree with every comment and yet as I read them, I felt something stir inside me. A new idea.
A new idea that began with the question: “What if we’re are looking at ‘Saturday’ all wrong?”
Certainly living in the tension of this ambiguous day is appropriate. Reflecting on how the disciples and world felt at the time of Jesus’ death is important for understanding and deepening one’s faith. But should we spend the entire day stuck in a funk–especially when we know how this is all going to turn out?
It’s hard to forget or unlearn what we know so remaining in the doldrums of this Saturday for any number of hours seems to be a waste of time. After-all many of us preacher types are familiar with the phrase: It’s Friday/Saturday now…but Sunday’s coming!
I’m not suggesting that we immediately and prematurely jump to Easter Sunday or push people too quickly out of a necessary stage of grief and pain. I do believe wholeheartedly in the wisdom shared in yesterday’s Jaweed Kaleem’s Huffington Post column:
If you are not clear in your head about your understanding about somebody dying tragically, if you cannot reconcile that with the higher power of God or force of nature, this will be tough work for you,” said Handzo, who teaches chaplains and palliative care specialists. “You will probably not do it well, and you will burn out. You have to go through death to get to resurrection.
It’s important for me to be reminded that this part of the of the Christian story. … It’s painful, but it’s also what can make things meaningful,” he said. “We can make a mistake a lot of times with people who are dying. We can take our beliefs and say ‘the resurrection is coming,’ or ‘things will get better.’ But some people are not ready for that, they are still hurting and mourning, and they don’t need that happy good news stuff. They need to be allowed to be where they are, to have that Good Friday time.
However, it seems that I and others are more inclined to believe that we have to spend this day mired in guilt, sadness and lament when it would be much more fitting to move through the suffering as a way of observing this Nothing/Dark/Dead/Holy Saturday.
Again, this doesn’t mean we should start shouting “Chris is risen! He is risen indeed!” and burst into loud choruses of Ode to Joy but it perfectly reasonable for us to be happy on this day and embrace the joys of life and God’s creation. True, God is dead, the Trinity is broken and the cosmos is torn…but simultaneously it’s not. God is still ALIVE, otherwise existence would’ve ceased to exist at the moment Jesus uttered his last breath. The world kept turning. The active and present God stayed on the move. There was a process that occurred between cross and empty tomb. There was something that raised a living body from the dead, that conquered death and exposed the cruel and violent powers and principalities. That process. That something. That was God!
God who entered the world in human form (but still remained the holy and mysterious God) died and then raised God-self from the clutches of death–thus transforming the world and creating a new reality, vision, kingdom of God on earth and heaven.
It’s crazy and mysterious and yet true, none the less. God in Christ told the disciples this is exactly what would happen. He would be betrayed, abandoned, killed, die and in three days, be resurrected (Matthew 20:17-19, Mark 10:33-34 and Luke 18:31-33). The disciples were too bound up in the trauma and drama of those three days that they forgot Jesus’ words. But we have the benefit of hindsight, of being able to look at the texts and remember…again, and again, and again that death will not have the final say in this story of God and humanity.
Even though there will be pain, dying and death today and tomorrow on Easter and throughout the Easter season to come and beyond, death. never. has. the. final. say. NEVER. But God does:
No matter how much the mess and distortion make you want to despair, you can’t abandon the work because you’re chained to the bloody thing. It’s absolutely woven into your soul and you know you can never rest until you’ve brought truth out of all the distortion and beauty out of all the mess—but it’s agony, agony, agony—while simultaneously being the most wonderful and rewarding experience in the world—and that’s the creative process which so few people understand…You can’t create without waste and mess and sheer undiluted slog. You can’t create without pain. It’s all part of the process. (Rob Bell quoting characters in a favorite novel in his book Drops Like Stars: A Few Thoughts on Creativity and Suffering, 2009)
So instead of sitting around and feeling numb, let us be a part of the God-process that is shaping something out of suffering, that is transforming mess into beauty, death into life…
Pull out a carton of boring dusty-white looking eggs and dye them with an assortment of colors, either with your kids or by yourself.
Help your 4 and a half year old create a dio-rama with the small plastic safari animals she bought yesterday at the zoo.
Bake bread and take it to a neighbor who has been sick or who you’ve never spoken to.
Make some sandwiches and take them to the homeless men and women nearest to wherever you live.
Call up someone you disagree with and tell them you love them.
Plant some flowers in your yard.
Paint a picture.
Shovel snow from the walk.
Take photographs of the world around you.
Write a song.
Craft a story.
Create. Create. Create. (And) Re-create
Don’t stop creating.