Today the disciples woke - or came into the day after being awake all night with the stunning realization that their Messiah was dead. As the shock of yesterday's mob violence becomes less than full-view dominating, and the feelings turn to realizing they are alone, the haze of shock becomes the chest-crushing pain of fear.
They stay in their houses or where they had retreated after his death. Not wanting to face the expected jeers of non-believers, and yet afraid of meeting each others' eyes. It is Passover week, the remembrance of being delivered from oppression for all of Israel but these cannot participate; they have been shamed.
Perhaps then, it's good that today is the Sabbath; a perfect excuse to stay in, away from the glances that prompt their self-conscious guilt.
On this side of Easter, we wait expectantly. On their side, they sit in quiet panic, dejection, and a sad wondering what had happened. Ours is much easier and yet we can perhaps imagine their angst. Remove from your mind the reminders of an Easter that hasn't happened yet. After Good Friday and its sudden dark and crack! there is nowhere to turn.
Your sin has killed your God and there is no solution remaining. You are out of options; the full weight of your me-life rests on you; overwhelms you; defeats you. Can you feel your breath quicken and grow shallow? Does your body experience some nervous energy in your chest and shoulders?
This is the challenge of Holy Saturday. To sit in extended time with your guilt and your aloneness. We don't like to do this; we want to run to Sunday to rid ourselves of this hurt. It is all too easy for us on this side of Easter.
Don't rush. Wait and ponder; and pray:
Father, we confess to you our pride, our sins of doing and those of not doing. We confess that our eyes both lead us to sin, and keep us from seeing the hurt we might relieve. We confess that our hands both hurt and fail to heal. We confess that our tongues both curse and fail to soothe.
Father, we confess that in our waiting today, we can see and feel the truth of our separation from you. The weight is heavy; our eyes become constricted; our mouths are dry. Like the people of Nineveh we are tempted to sit in sack cloth and ashes having lost our hope.
In our disoriented state, we bear our confusion as headaches and have no appetite. To run away would be too easy; a denial we do not want. Help us Father to wait this day and not abandon you; give us grace to stay with you.
Give us by your mercy the strength to look for you today. The patience to rest on your as yet unseen and fantastic promise to raise yourself. Help us to believe while we cannot see.