Year B Holy Saturday 2021
A Live Video from St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
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.
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.
Today we sit in uncomfortable silence. Silent, because we don’t have the words. Uncomfortable, because we rush to comfort to ease our discomfort with the uncomfortable.
I hope you had a chance to watch our Lenten Series, Wrestling with Mark. It is all up on the internet and you don’t have to be in Lent to learn from and enjoy it. In filming the last episode I had to do something that we did not have to do in the other episodes.
In the final one, our three clergy gathered virtually and we wrestled with the final chapters of Mark. But the striking difference here was that from the 2 hours plus of filming, I had to cut over 15 minutes of silence from the conversation. Becky+, Harrison, and I are all trained clergy, and all three of us have lots of experience (and I dare say pretty good at it, too) at facilitating. And one of the key things in facilitating is knowing when to sit in uncomfortable silence. We drive ourselves, we push our groups to get to the lighter topics quickly. Sitting in the discomfort so that we can do the hard work is so hard emotionally, but that is when the most important work happens.
Ask any therapist, or group facilitator. The real work happens in the uncomfortable silences.
That is why I will ALWAYS do the important work of recognizing Holy Saturday. This liturgy is forcing us to work through the intimacy of Maundy Thursday, the horror and shock of Good Friday, and the numbness of today when we recognize that God can die. God the Son, Jesus- God Incarnate, died.
What does that say?
What does that mean?
Does it negate his message? Does it eradicate all the good he did?
What does that mean to me? How will this change the course of my days? The disciples asked that. They had followed him for three years, handling crowds, witnessing miracles, and showing the religious know-it-alls that maybe they were not as secure as they thought they were.
But as we sit in our emotional darkness, maybe we can ponder what has happened. We can let go of the illusions and brokering, and the pretending that this was all a dream. Jesus, whom we love, was beaten. Jesus, whom we love, was tortured. Jesus, whom we love, was humiliated on the road coming into Jerusalem. Jesus, whom we love, died.
Jesus, whom we love, died alone. We scattered and ran. Peter, who swore he wouldn’t, denied him more than once. And want am I going to do with that? How can I ever forgive MYSELF. I am no better than Pilate who refused to halt this. I am no better than the Sanhedrin who held an illegal trial based on lies and misrepresentations. I am no better than the soldiers who beat, mocked, and tortured him, who stripped him of his last worldly possessions, who killed him in the most agonizing way, death on a cross. I am no better than any of them. I claimed to love him, and still I did nothing. Sins of commission or omission, his blood is on our hands.
And we sit in silence with that. We call that the most ironic of names, Holy Saturday. Even more ironic than Good Friday.
As we sit here, may God bless this uncomfortable silence. May God be with us in our misery. Or more accurately, may we feel God with us in our uncomfortable silence. God is always there when there is suffering.
Friends, as we sit here, I remind you, the story is not over. It is Saturday, but Sunday is coming. Amen.