Easter VigilAll is not lost.
Yes, we watched the Savior die. Yes, we are overwhelmed by grief and sorrow and the reality that the world is very much not what it should be. But that is never the end of the story.
Holy Saturday is where we live--between the now and the not yet--between the pain of death and the full resurrection into life. We live in what often feels like a partially-illuminated world, glowing with the fire of the Spirit but not yet by the full force of the Son. And so we wait. We wait and watch--much like Advent. Only this time, we aren't waiting for the innocence of a baby but the full weight of the justice of God come to bear on the unrighteousness of sin. The wait is as much that of the Messiah as it is that of new life and new hope and new breath--a promise that this hasn't all been a waste of time.
So, as your prepare for worship, wait until the sun is down and it has become dark. Begin with the lights off in your home. Light your candles and begin with Creation: when Jesus said, "Let there be light." Keep some bread and juice or wine or water nearby because we will grow hungry and thirsty as we wait. Surround yourself with pictures of your loved ones because this night, all the world is brought together in the holy longing of resurrection.
It is finished. The God of Love has died, and we die in our hearts, as well. We die of shame; we die of guilt; we die of fear; we die of grief. We die, knowing that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves, and though we know how the story ends, we join the disciples in the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Especially today, we feel hopeless and helpless to change what the world has become--to change the scenes that we see every day on the news--to change the words of arrogance and fear that echo in our minds. Will we ever learn? The cross seems to say, 'No.'
But because we know the end of the story, this is not where we stay. This is not where our imagination rests--in the doom and gloom of a dreary world filled with sin. No, we cannot save ourselves. Perhaps it's time to stop trying and start caring for what has been placed in our hands--each other, our, our gifts, our blessings, our families, our love, our hearts, our lives, our country, our world, all of God's creation.
As you prepare for worship this evening, gather in the dusk of the day. Have a candle or two to light as we pray for the healing of the nations.
For all is not lost--it is just buried.
Maundy ThursdayToday, we hear about Christ's final meal, surrounded by his friends. We remember Mary breaking open the jar of oil over his feet. We tell of Jesus washing the disciples' feet and sending them in love and service. And we remember the final meal in which Jesus told them that when they remember the Exodus at Passover, they are remembering what he will do for them in his death. He frees us from the finality of death by defeating it with his final breath.
As you prepare to worship, gather around a simple meal. Make sure you have bread or crackers on hand and something to drink. Take your time eating. Press pause on the video to dine and remember and savor the food. Be grateful for what you have and pray for those who have little. Taste and see that God is so very good. And then, as the worship begins to close and the altar is laid bare, take down the unnecessary things you have around your room--things that clutter your life and detract you from the true life God offers. Let yourself feel the emptiness. For tomorrow, nothing will matter. Tomorrow, Jesus dies at the hands of false idols. Tomorrow, the truth of sin will be exposed.
But tonight, we eat...and we remember.