Sermon; Holy Saturday 2018
Well that didn't go as planned.
Maybe we thought we were doing the right thing. Maybe we thought that if we did something – anything – to get Jesus to take a stand, it wouldn't have turned out this way. Maybe . . . maybe we just didn't anticipate how bad things would get.
But here we are having to deal with the fact that we betrayed Jesus into the hands of tyrants. Here we are having to deal with the fact that we are those tyrants. We are the ones who betrayed him. We are the ones who shouted, “Crucify him!”
Here we are in the calm after the storm. The crowds are gone. Jesus is dead. People are getting on with their lives. The only thing left for us to do is to contemplate what happened and try to figure out where we go from here. We have three choices.
First, we can spend our time mourning our loss. We can continually look backwards and mourn the loss of how things used to be. We can mourn our bad decisions and continually dwell in our sorrows. We can dwell in those sorrows to the point where nothing else matters. And we can come to the conclusion that if nothing else matters it's okay to give up. This is how Judas dealt with yesterday when he went and hanged himself.
Second, we can live in the here and now only. We can recognize that Jesus is dead, mourn his passing, and get on with our lives. In some sense, this is where we are. What was is gone, we only have today. As much as this is true, it can lead to a world with no hope. It can lead to a place where we only concentrate on today. This is how Peter dealt with yesterday when he said, “I'm going fishing.”
Third, we can live with the hope of the resurrection. We can mourn. We can recognize our part in this drama, this Passion. And we can understand that we, too, went to the grave only to find it empty. We can realize the tomb is empty and tell the others. This is how Mary and the other women dealt with these events.
On every grave stone there is a date of birth, a date of death, and a dash between them. We are living in the dash. And today, somewhere, someone is dealing with the death of a close friend.
We are like the disciples in that regard – we are dealing with the death of Jesus. Arrested, beaten, crucified, dead, and buried, today is a lonely day for us.
But unlike the disciples, we have the story. Whereas Saturday was a hopeless day for them, it can be a hopeful day for us. Yesterday is past, tomorrow is not promised, but in looking to tomorrow we have hope. We have hope that Jesus' words were true. We have hope in the resurrection. Hope, it would seem, is all we have.
As St. Paul wrote, in hope we were saved. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Hope is what will help get us through this day.
In some respects, today is like any other day in human history. People go about their business. Some are joyful. Some are sad. Some are having good days. Some are having bad days. Somewhere a child is born. Somewhere a person is laid to rest. Today we all live in the dash between birth and death. Yesterday is past. Tomorrow is not promised. There is only today.
But on this subdued day when we mourn the death of Jesus, let us live a life of hope. Let us live a day of hope. Let us offer a hopeful dash to the rest of the world.
On this day we can choose to live one of three ways: we can mourn the past and how things used to be, giving up on the future; we can live only focused on ourselves and today; or we can live today in the hope of the resurrection.
Regardless of which one you choose, know that every day is a dash. Live with a dash of mourning. Live with a dash of selfishness. Live with a dash of hope.
The choice is yours.