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Friday, April 22, 2011

God is dead

And how would you have felt Friday night, Saturday, early Sunday morning, with Jesus dead and, as far as you knew, never coming back like Lazarus or the widow of Nain's son or the 12 year old girl (talitha cum)?

If you were one of the apostles you were hiding and hoping the Romans wouldn't arrest and kill you too. And you knew the ugly taste of fear that was snarled at the back of your throat. And not a little amount of shame that you'd run and deserted him - it wasn't just Peter.

How did Saturday feel to you? After three years of his voice, his wisdom, his humor, his love, his mystery? How did Saturday feel when all of that was gone? Apparently forever?

I recall a painting called "Holy Saturday" but I could not find it though I scoured the net for the image. It's an older piece however I don't know the artist either so I may never locate it to show any of you.

The Eleven are in a room together. Their faces are flat with grief, dismay, depression, despondency. In the forefront, slumped in a chair, is a bearded apostle, possibly Peter. His eyes are vacant. You can see this person has lost all hope, all joy - the life has been sucked right out of him.

We meditate on Good Friday. We celebrate on Resurrection Sunday. In-between we scurry about our business. There is nothing for Holy Saturday or Black Saturday (at least, no tradition I'm aware of though the Orthodox or Roman Catholics may have some vigil I know nothing about). And yet it is day on which God is dead. Really dead. Jesus is lying slack-jawed on a stone slab. (Or perhaps his jaw was properly bound up to keep it shut. I had to do such things when I worked as an orderly in a hospital when I was twenty something.)

Flies may be crawling unhindered on his hastily wrapped body. Maybe his eyes were not shut properly and are rigidly half-open under the shroud. Have you seen many dead bodies before the funeral director got a hold of them? That is Jesus. That is God Incarnate.

A corpse.

Rigor mortis making the arms and legs stiff as wood. Rigid as the crossbeams upon which he was nailed.

It seems to me we spend time at the Cross, we spend time at the Empty Tomb, but we never spend time with the Body. And the Silence.

Dorothy Sayers once wrote that of all the times people have said "God is dead" the one time it was most true . . .

. . . was just before he came back to life.

1 comment:

Bill L. said...

Shush! Let's be careful not to tell Him He dead... I don't think He knows it :-)