Holy Saturday

by Kris Judd

Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God.  This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.

On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Luke 15:50-556(NRSV)

Death surrounded them, encircled them, and knocked them off their feet. The events of the preceding days had happened so quickly they had no time to fully prepare for the life-changing, hope-betraying crucifixion they had just witnessed. The future that had been so bright, filled with miracles and baptisms and new followers suddenly turned dark, just as the skies that stood over the three crosses just the day before.

Jesus was dead. The dreams to challenge the empire were now dead as well. What would become of these men and women who had given up everything they knew—careers, family, security, status—to follow this crazy dreamer? If they had known it was going to end this way, would they have made the same choices? What was left for them to choose now—now that their world had ended?

Filled with shock, then sadness and fear, they chose to hide, cloistered together. They had been told to wait, but for what? They had waited all of their lives for this Redeemer. Could they wait any longer? What other choices did they have but to wait? They did what was most familiar and perhaps comforting to them in this time of chaos and confusion. They stopped trying to make life work; they observed Sabbath and rested.

For today’s readers, this day offers us Sabbath as well. Holy Saturday extends to us the same invitation to rest in an uncomfortable place where we do not know exactly what we are waiting for, but where we can’t return to what we once had. We live suspended between the familiar and the unseen, between what we know and what we must trust. No wonder we numbly move from the crucifixion to the resurrection, barely noticing the 24 hours in between. It’s too painful to live in this space between death and new life. It’s easier to be in the certainty of one or the other.

Like the early disciples, we live in chaos, confusion, deep sadness, and even fear. The future we had prepared for is no longer visible, and perhaps not even possible, since crucifixion erased those dreams and resurrection hasn’t yet been made real.

Sister Joan Chittister writes, “The spirituality of religious life today is neither the spirituality of the cross nor the spirituality of the resurrection. The spirituality of our time is the spirituality of Holy Saturday: a spirituality of confusion and consternation, of ineffectiveness and powerlessness, of faith in darkness and the power of hope. It is a spirituality that carries on when carrying on seems most futile.”—The Fire in These Ashes, p 41

This day of preparation, Holy Saturday, is a day to carry on into what seems futile and to live in the mystery of endings when we long for new beginnings. This is a day to surrender into an agenda that is not our own, in a world where our vision of what makes sense gives way to a future that is not tied to our desires or plans. Without the dying, there will be no new life or transformation for us or for the world. On this day, let us rest, release control, and simply make space for that which will be soon unwrapped before us.

MAKING SPACE FOR GOD

Lenten Practice: Fasting
Daily Act: Choose to eliminate one task from your schedule today. Spend that time intentionally dwelling in God’s presence, even if only for a moment!
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“OPEN ME TO RECEIVE MORE OF YOU.”

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

Creating space can be hard. Our basic need to feel needed competes with the humble reminder that we are not in control.

This is what Lent has come to say to us. Yes, our responsibilities and commitments matter. We are connected to one another and our choices impact all the other lives in contact with our own. Yet, it is a wider perspective that Lent brings us. It is an invitation to see everything we did not make and cannot do, to cease the anxious pace of “not enough”, to discover renewal in humility.

It is the invitation to rest, for once, for a moment, maybe even for a while, in our belovedness as children of God- created, enough.

A couple weeks ago, some responsibilities were canceled due to frigid temperatures and harsh winter winds in Northeast Ohio. I allowed the winter storm to bring a Sabbath blessing. I stopped. I laid down everything expected of me. As I eased into the day, I felt my anxieties lessen. The world did not stop after all. What I had perceived as a thin thread holding everything together in my life began to feel more like a rope- reliable, strong to hold.

This isn’t just about feeling good individually. Sabbath has systemic impact. Just as we think everyone around us is impacted when we lay something down, everyone is impacted when we refuse to stop and breathe. Everyone includes the people closest to us, our communities, and the earth that is our home. Sabbath keeping is an act of justice, a radical counter-cultural way in a world that measures worth by accumulation of busyness and achievement.

Space making is peace making.
Sabbath is the threshold to shalom.

May you breathe deeper this day as you create space within for the God who says- you are enough.

The Peace of Wild Things
By Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

To Dwell in Sabbath Rest

IMG_3721

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

Keeping hope can be hard.

In one moment I am consumed
With possibility’s fire.
In the next I am in the cold, dark cave
Of uncertainty, doubt.
Then moments like these creep in-
Of tempting apathy
That diminish the intensity
And also the fullness
Of life.

I need something between the fire and the cave
That is not half-hearted.

Something like sabbath rest
Which is more than a day off
To watch tv or clean the house.

It is a soul nourishing silence
Or laughter
Or sweet release
That does not distract
But moves with and through
What IS.
It is not anesthesia.
It is renewal.
It says to the heart-
And does not make false promises:

You are enough.
You are beloved.
All will be well.
Breathe.
Let what is within you
And beyond you
Fill you
Sustain you.
Listen to the rhythm of your soul
To rediscover your place among all things.
Rest in belonging.
Find peace in awe-
Refreshment in gratitude.
Let what is overwhelming humble you
Out of your addiction to control.
Spend time in the very source of the
Love-movement in the world
Which you seek and desire.
Let your actions and words
Flow forth from this space.
Trust your deepest oneness instinct
And allow this reality to permeate
Your knowing AND doing.
Divine Love does not desire your exhaustion
But will hold you close
When burn-out is near
If you allow yourself to be held
To dwell in sabbath rest.

From this place
In the time it takes
Enter again the flame or the cave
Or the wooded mountain path.
Enter with a heart in tune
To the God-song singing HOPE
In all you see.