Saturday, March 31, 2018

Year B Holy Saturday 2018 Importance of Second Acts

Year B Holy Saturday, 31 March 2018 
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA 
“The Importance of 2nd Acts” 
Collect: O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 
1 Peter 4:1-8 Since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme. But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.  The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.  John 19:38-42 Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. 
There are ways one tells a story. For it to be a good story, a memorable story, certain things are necessary. Just like there are ways to tell a joke, there are ways to tell a story. People have studied, analyzed, and experimented, and it is as driven into our nature as breathing.  
You have to have a character, preferably likable, who is forced out of what is normal. Lots of things could do this, but something has to upset the applecart. No one starts a story with, “And they lived happily ever after.” There has to be something, conflict, adolescence, something that is a catalyst for the main character. 
And once they decide whether they will go into the change, or not, the main character faces trials that keeps them from their goal. One of these trials is greater than the others. It is incomprehensible and overwhelming, and after facing these trials there must seem to be no hope. All is lost, but… 
And that is the 2nd Act of every story. The 1st Act is the premise/conflict that drives the hero from the normal. The 2nd Act is dealing with the conflict until the insurmountable comes. 
And that is where we are with Holy Saturday. We do not know what to do. All hope is lost. We see no way out. The disciples locked themselves in a room, apparently hiding. Clueless and overwhelmed with grief. They cannot imagine that what Jesus said, repeatedly said, could possibly be true. “The Son of Man must suffer, die, and on the third day, rise again.” Over and over, he taught this. 
Did they think it was metaphor? How often do we? 
When Jesus says, “Love your enemy. Do good to those who hate you.”, what do we think? Too often, oh, that is just rhetorical to make a point. No. No, it wasn’t. “Go and sin no more.” Not metaphor. “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Literal.  
So was, “On the third day, he will rise again.” 
We have a hard time with Holy Saturday because we do not want to dwell in the 2nd Act. We do not want to sit in this discomfort of the hopeless situation. We know the rest of the story, so we want to skip to that. The joy and triumph, calling out the A-word [Alleluia] (which we will not say till we get to the 3rd Act tonight). 
 It is important to face the darkness, to open our eyes and see no glimmer so we can truly relish the joy and the light. I so appreciate that we have a space for Holy Saturday. It makes all the rest of it all the more real. We know a good story, one worth hearing and repeating when we hear it. And we keep telling this one because in our hopelessness of Saturday, we know, Sunday is coming. Amen. 

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Blessings, Rock