Saturday, April 7, 2012

Silent Saturday

We’re not quite sure what to do with that long Saturday, bounded by the vulnerability of Good Friday and the victory of Easter Sunday.  It’s a bit awkward.  We’d like to cheat on it, quickly empty the cross and rush to the resurrection.  Time in the tomb seems like wasted time. We get edgy, impatient for the resolution.  Why bother with Saturday. It seems like a day full of nothing. 

Of course, that’s what the Sabbath is about; work ceases, even if just for a moment.  There’s a stillness about it.  But on this Saturday it’s not a peaceful stillness.  It’s a stillness that longs for resolution.  Saturday gathers all Friday’s suffering and moves toward all Sunday’s glory but does so with an agonizing pause. 

What do we know of that Saturday?  Only this - Luke tells us that the women who had been following Jesus prepared spices and perfumes, but they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment (Luke 23:56).  They wait.  And maybe that’s all we need to know.

Saturday is the day of waiting.  We want a speedy resolution; God says wait.  We’re to resist the urge to allow Sunday to seep over into Saturday to claim an early victory.  “…if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Ro. 8:24).

Walter Brugemmann says it so well, “Ours is the long journey of Saturday.  Between suffering, aloneness, unutterable waste on the one hand and the dream of liberation, of rebirth on the other.”  Most of life is lived between tragedy and triumph.  We have the promise, but not the fulfillment…so we wait.

The waiting of a single person to see if God has marriage in their future.
The waiting of a childless couple hoping for a positive pregnancy test month after month.
The waiting of a sick patient to see if treatment has been successful.
The waiting of a spouse who is trapped in a hurting marriage that seems unlikely to change.
The waiting of a family for their prodigal child to return to God.
The waiting of an unemployed worker who is sinking ever deeper into financial trouble.
The waiting of a grieving individual for the pain to pass.
      The waiting of a suffering patient for God to take them home.
The waiting of a teenager who never seems to measure up to her parents expecations

The waiting of an unanswered prayer,
       An undeserved hurt,
              An unexpected tragedy,
                   An unexplainable mystery.

Lewis Smedes said “As creatures who cannot by themselves bring about what they hope for, we wait in darkness for a flame we cannot light.  We wait in fear for a happy ending we cannot write.  We wait for a ‘not yet’ that feels like a ‘not ever.’” 

It’s the story of Psalm 27.  Between the tragic reality “Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence” (v.12) and the anticipated victory, “I am still confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (v.13) is the patient waiting “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”(v.14).

So when we're in the midst of a difficult situation - a situation that yearns for resolution.  When when we face the silence of God, thirsting for a single word.  There is a word that breaks the silence.  "Wait."  It is a long Saturday.  But eventually the sun will rise on Sunday and the waiting will be over.

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