Holy Saturday is almost over, for those who have moved their clocks already there are cries of “The Lord has risen”, but I must admit that I prefer to think of Easter Day dawning quietly and slowly. As I have walked through this day of preparation and waiting I have encountered people who are grieving, and people who are waiting beside their loved ones beds, hoping for a good report, and once again I am aware that while we may shout Alleluias tomorrow for many the fullness of those will ring hollow for a time as they will not yet have emerged into a place where they are able to celebrate.
As we met this afternoon at North Shore Methodsit Church in Blackpool we met in prayer and contemplation as well as preparation, we took time to enter into the depths of Holy Saturday emptiness, and it was somehow significant that the prayer station that caused people to linger was the one that invited people to feel and smell oils and ointments, and to ponder the preparation work done by the women to honour Jesus in his death. It allowed space for grief and hurts to be expressed, space for touch and smell to lead us deeper into the story, room for a sensory experience that made sense of both Good Friday and Easter Day by forming a bridge between the two.
Somehow the experience of smell and touch provided a grounded act of contemplation, in a similar way I entered into that this evening, changing bed linen and preparing deserts for tomorrow gave me an opportunity to acknowledge the space between emptiness and celebration. Tomorrow my house will welcome family as the church will welcome worshippers, we will share a meal both at the communion table and the dinner table, we will share stories, bread, wine and other foods, and both will be a sacrament, and both have been prepared for, yet neither will be perfect, that gift is yet to come.
As I end this Holy day I am waiting, waiting for my daughter and son-in-law to arrive, they want to be here for tomorrow morning, we will begin Easter Day together, possibly in a few minutes time. As I wait I am reminded that the perfection, the immaculate meals and the oh so wonderful celebrations are the stuff of TV adverts and not of reality, I am reminded that Easter Day dawned slowly with shock and surprise, and ended with doubts as well as joy. I am reminded that we are invited to enter into a time of rejoicing that is both now and not quite yet, a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.
Holy week, holy Saturday and even Easter day itself map out for us the way to life through suffering and death, things that none of us can ever be immune to, and on our was to fullness of life we will experience these as different depths and levels. When we accepth this I believe that our celebrations take on a richer and fuller if less perfect complexion.
So I intend to enter into Easter Day quietly, yes there will be Alleluias, but they will be grounded in the reality that I still take parts of Holy Saturday with me, and always will until I am all the world finish groaning ( sometimes in words that only the Spirit can express), and God brings all things in Christ to their completion.