To the Church in Exile,
The peace of Christ be with you. Something different is before us today. Jean and I have been poring through a set of Lenten devotions written by the Old Testament and Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann. I thought his Holy Saturday piece was particularly timely and worth sharing with you. So here it is:
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark… – John 20:1
Nobody knew how long Saturday would last. Nobody knew if Saturday would ever end. So it is now as well. Nobody knows how long Saturday will last or if it will ever end. Saturday is that in-between day of stillness and doubt and despair when time stands still in lethal flatness. The old Saturday was about abandonment and disappointment at the far edge of the crucifixion. And then came all the Saturdays of fear and abusiveness, of the Crusades and the ovens and genocides in too many places. And then came our particular Saturdays of Katrina and 9/11 and economic collapse, Saturdays of overwhelming failure with no adequate resources.
In the midst of that desperate stillness, the church listens yet again to another narrative that interrupts and intrudes and summons and haunts. The key character of this other narrative around which we gather is the Friday guy done in by the rulers of this age. That much they knew on Saturday, but it did not comfort them at all on Saturday. The wonder of the narrative around which we gather is that the Friday guy did not linger long on Saturday. He ends up being the Sunday guy – not of good clothes and proper behavior and much piety but of the first day of the week…the day of the new world, and for those who engage, the first day of new life in the world.
This narrative about the Sunday guy is urgent among us because it is clear that the old narratives of money and power and violence and control have failed. There is among us a wonderment about another way in the world. This is it! It is discipleship after the guy who started the world again. And now in the church, all of us – conservatives and progressives – are wondering about this alternative.
We are not sure
But we expect to be interrupted.
We expect to be given a mandate.
We expect to be put at risk.
We are not sure; but we are haunted at the thought of it.
You are the God who remains with us during our Saturdays of waiting and wondering, marked by the memory of Friday and the hope of Sunday. Forbid us too-easy exits out of the darkness. May we wait until we are at last interrupted by your life-giving grace. Amen.
Peace in Christ,
Doug Kelly, Senior Pastor
Bethany Presbyterian Church
(206) 284-2222, x11