Saturday, April 15, 2006

Holy Saturday

Well, we're on the edge of Easter now.

My wife and I are at home, resting before our Easter Vigil service at 8:30 p.m. I love this time of year; this Triduum triathalon of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil which culminates in Easter Sunday tomorrow. We have already ridden that wild ride from the calm, but ominous Maundy Thursday service with its stunning affirmation of our service to each other found in the liturgy of the feet washing to the stripping of the altar and our silent departure into the night. Then, we get to the sombreness of Good Friday, as we recall that the horrible death that Jesus suffered on the Cross is really the decisive moment in human history: that, in the face of apparent defeat and ruin, the power of sin and death are broken forever. Yet, by the time we leave in silence again, you wouldn't know it. Christ has died, but where is the rising? We grieve for the death, but we await his rising; the token of his victory over death.

Today is a day of waiting, a day of expectancy. Like the apostles, we haven't realized what has happened the last few days and we think all is lost. Then, we get to the Vigil. We watch that small flame in the brazier at the back of the church grow. We watch candles lit by the acolytes as the light spread through the whole church and the whole church seems to awaken from a disturbed sleep. And, finally, we reach the Gloria, when our voices, restrained by Lent and the experience of Good Friday, almost shout out "Glory to God!" amid frantic bell ringing as we try to convey our joy and astonishment that, contrary to all expectation, God's grace has won out, after all. It is a glorious and joyful moment.

So, we wait, but we wait in a different way than the apostles. We wait confidently because we know how this drama turned out so many years ago. And we know that this is how it turned out last year, last Easter Vigil. I often wonder how the apostles were able to stand it as news trickled in about the odd things that were happening around Jesus' tombs. I certainly don't know how they stood, when Jesus came into the Upper Room for the first time. All our Glorias and bell-ringing is nothing compared to that.

I'm still waiting, of course, but, before I go off and wait some more, I want to wish all of you a wonderful Easter. I pray that you experience the Risen Christ in all his wonder this Easter and into the coming year!


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