This day – this day between the burial and the resurrection – this day where lingering hope must have felt stifled, where unanswered questions overwhelmed, where darkness seemed to envelop, where life must have stilled, where grief dominated and silence was impenetrable.
Last night, our Good Friday service walked through the final words of Christ on the cross and offered powerful and appropriately uncomfortable meditations as the lights dimmed to darkness and we left in silence feeling the weight. I was helping lead a few songs but spent most of the service to the side of the stage, engaged. We sang “O Sacred Head Now Wounded,” and then heard another of the Lord’s final words – and then – brief silence followed by the sound of hammering behind a curtain – slow and powerful and emotionally breaking hammering – no other sounds – just hammering – and then silence.
I have been to the whole range of Holy Week services throughout my life and have experienced seeing or hearing the hammering of the cross – but for some reason this time was different – this jarred me to my depths and left me breathless – you could feel the stage shake with each pound – and all I could bear was to whisper, “Why?” Why this – why this way? And perhaps under those questions…why me?
Questions still overwhelming my thoughts, we heard another of Jesus’ final words and then quietly sang this song, and this verse gave me the freedom to sit in these uncomfortable questions…
I hear the Savior say,
‘Thy strength indeed is small,
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me Thy all in all’
Perhaps we cannot find Him as all in all until we acknowledge our inability to fully grasp certain things with our finite mind and embrace the freedom to sit and watch with Him in our unanswered questions.
Maybe that is what Jesus was longing His disciples to understand when He was in the Garden just asking them to “watch with Me.” (Matt. 26:38)
And this day – the Scriptures don’t even tell us anything about this day between the burial and resurrection besides it being the Sabbath, so the people rested. But what could it say really – the story was not over, which we rightly know – but the weight and darkness of this day must have been more overwhelming than words could ever come close to depicting.
Yet it seems that this day speaks to us in the grit of our humanness most powerfully – we will each encounter moments when darkness seems unbearable, when we feel what this day may have been for those faithful to Christ that day – and so we watch with Him with fewer answers than we would like – and our strength is indeed so small – but we try and cling to the hope that the story is not over – we cling to the truth that one morning, we will, like those that first Easter, go to the tomb early in the morning (maybe preparing to continue mourning in the darkness with spices for burial) – and we will find that hope bursts from what was believed to be the finality of death.
But it is in this agony of unknowing and silence that they watched today – and He didn’t rise until the next morning. Why did He not just rise today? Why the waiting?
I am left with this question without answers – but perhaps this is again what speaks into the grit of our lives. Rarely do those moments in our own life of silence, darkness, and questions occur and then cease in a day.
The waiting…we know the waiting.
Yet in this waiting, perhaps He is asking us in our weakness to watch and pray and find in Him our all in all – yet with permission to sit in the midst of this long and silent Saturday even with our unanswered questions – but believing against all other voices that the story is not in fact over.
(For another pondering spurned by Holy Week, feel free to read my blog post: “No Longer Outside the Wall.”)