I am caught in this world and cannot seem to escape it.
I cling to the security of our money, not wanting to give up our extra even to help one who is hurting. I cling to my anger, not wanting to give it up even for the sake of my child’s heart. I cling to my idea of success, not wanting to give up the possibility of my daughters’ successes in the world even for the sake of their love for God and neighbor.
I am helpless, mired, enmeshed and enslaved. I cannot even turn away from sin on my own. I am incapable of seeing my sin for what it is.
I am like Peter in the courtyard, having just betrayed the One he saw raising the dead and being transfigured, having sworn and cursed that he did not know Him. Peter, too, was unable to turn, unable to grieve over his betrayal, until…
Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him…And he went outside and wept bitterly. ~ Luke 22.60-62
Peter not turn first, Jesus did. When Peter was right in the middle of his sin, when he would have preferred to look anywhere else other than at Jesus, Jesus turned and looked at Peter.
I cannot turn from my sin unless Jesus turns to me first. I can, perhaps, feel frustrated at my inability to obey, but this is not the kind of sorrow that bears any kind of lasting fruit. This is only a kind of twisted pride. What I cannot do is to understand my own helplessness and the depths of my sin.
If I have any repentance at all, any true turning of my heart to God, it is only by the grace of God turning to me first.
Sorrow over our sinful condition is…God’s attribute above all. Sorrow over sin does not finally belong to us humans; we ourselves are not capable of it. ~ Martin Luther
Don’t miss this. Don’t rush through it. On the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, God is dead.
One part of the Trinity, yes, but God nonetheless.
The Word of God is gone. We can no longer hear Him.
Linger in this day. Does the earth feel different? Somehow vacant?
There is, for this day, no possible way to reach God.
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
No Most Holy Place where the high priest could meet with God.
It is finished.
He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
No Word of God in whom we can see the Father.
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Remain in this day as long as you can. I don’t understand how, but somehow this day exists on which we are completely isolated from God.
Breathe in the horror of this day. God is dead. He is, for this day, unattainable. Can you catch even a glimpse?
The disciples did. They lived it for what must have felt like an eternity.
We’d rather skip past this day, this Saturday that contains Christ’s body in the tomb. Yet we must linger if we are to grasp the power of Easter Sunday. We must dwell here awhile if we are to be allowed to hold the joy of Easter Sunday.
When the Son, the Word of the Father is dead, then no one can see God, hear of Him or attain Him. And this day exists, when the Son is dead, and the Father, accordingly, inaccessible. ~ Hans Urs Von Balthasar (theologian and author)
Can you feel the terror of it? Do you sense the incomprehensible void that stretches before us on this day? What does it even mean?
Do not rush too quickly past this Holy Saturday on your way to the miracle. You may miss the deepest part of the gratitude and joy that are to come.
The deepest gratitude and joy that come only when you understand what was absent, and understand that it was only for a day.
It is often difficult to be generous. It is hard to give freely of our time, our resources, our hearts.
It is often difficult to trust. It is hard to open ourselves to others, leaving ourselves vulnerable to betrayal.
It is often difficult to see the abundance that is in God, and perhaps this is why it is so difficult to give it all away.
The widow whom Jesus noticed giving up her last coins in the temple could see this abundance. She saw how beautiful and full living in God’s life could be. She saw what we must open our own eyes to see: that we can only be generous and trust God with our lives when we see that our life in God, this kingdom of God here on earth, is abounding in life and love and joy.
Yes, we live in a broken, fallen world, but we don’t have to wait for the end of all things for God’s rule on earth to begin. Something occurred in creation when Jesus was raised from the dead. Something began at the resurrection that begins to bring God’s new life to this earth here and now. Paul speaks of us, among other things, as a new creation in Christ. I am not a theologian, so I do not pretend to understand how this happens or even exactly what is occurring.
Yet perhaps part of what this means is that we are called to bear witness to the perfect life in God, the perfect life of Genesis 1 & 2 and Revelation 21 & 22. We are called to live life in a way that bears witness to the perfection that we as well as all of creation will become, and perhaps simply living a witness kind of life is the way in which we are right now bringing God’s kingdom to fruition in our world.
When we act, as followers of Jesus Christ in the world, as if the limitations of this world set the boundaries for how we can act, then we are…failing in our witness to the cosmic redemption that has been accomplished in Jesus Christ ~ Jonathan Wilson, author of God’s Good World: Reclaiming the Doctrine of Creation
So let us live lives full of generosity and trust, opening our eyes to the abundance of life around us. The very same abundance that is ours in a witness life in Christ.