Holy Saturday Reflection 2
This reflection is from Tom Wright, ‘Lent for Everyone – Matthew Year A’, (pp139-141)
57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, “After three days I will rise again.” 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.’
65 ‘Take a guard,’ Pilate answered. ‘Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.’ 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
They tried to keep Jesus safely dead then. And they try it still today. Again and again, when the radio stations or newspapers want to talk about God, they ignore Jesus. Experts will be quoted or interviewed arguing for proof that God does not exist. Our world is still full of the modern equivalent of high priests going to the governor to have a guard placed on the tomb – the sceptics appealing for help to the powerful. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.
Sometimes, though, we Christians need to observe a Holy Saturday moment. On Holy Saturday, there is nothing you can do except wait. The Christian faith suffers, apparently, great defeats. Church buildings close. There are scandals and divisions in the Church. The World looks on. And where the Church, through its own fault, has caused scandal, a time of silence may be appropriate.
But God will do what God will do, in God’s own time. The world can plot and plan, but all of that will count for nothing when the victory already won on the cross, turns into the new sort of victory on the third day. In many parts of the western world today, the Church is almost apologetic, afraid of being sneered at. It looks like the chief priests of our culture, the Pharisees in today’s media, and even the political leaders have won. As it seemed to the disciples on Holy Saturday.
But this has happened before. The Romans tried to stamp out the Christian faith once and for all at the end of the third century, but within a few years, more than half the empire was converted and the new emperor gave in. Many people in England were sceptical about Christian faith after the religious turmoil of the 16th and 17th centuries, but great revivals of different sorts took place in the eighteenth and nineteenth. So who know what will happen next, after the words and challenges of the sceptics of our day? Our part is to keep Holy Saturday in faith and hope, grieving over the ruin of the world that sent Jesus to his death, but trusting in the promises of God that new life will come in his way and his time.
Pause – a thought, an idea to consider
Sometimes we aren’t sure how we have got to where we are. Why things aren’t going as we wanted to planned? Life seems drained out. That is a Holy Saturday moment. Do what has to be done, (as Joseph did). And wait for God to act in his own way and in his own time.
Pray – for yourself
Bring before God the doubts we have within, where we, when challenged by others, we do not have the answers or any answers…
Witness – looking outward
To be willing to admit and agree where the scandals, sins and division exist in the Church presently and in its past, and which are a poor witness to trusting faith in God.
Prayer for the Midday.
Help us, Gracious Lord,
to wait for your victory,
and in the meantime
to serve you in whatever we can.