Friday, April 06, 2012

Sunday Is Coming But Not Yet

There is an old Pentecostal sermon-in-a-sentence, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!”  And there is some truth in that...but the problem with some truth is that it inoculates us against full-blown truth.

Don’t rush from Good Friday to Easter Day.  Don’t miss Saturday.  It is easy to dismiss Saturday, because we know What Happens Next; but Sunday does not wipe out Saturday.  For Jesus’ first disciples, Saturday was living with the death of all their hopes and dreams.  We might say that that was only because their hopes and dreams were misplaced, that they didn’t match God’s hopes and dreams: but we’d be wrong.  Yes, their expectations might not have matched God’s, but their hopes and dreams and God’s were focused on Jesus, and Jesus was dead.  At the level of chronos, chronological time, Saturday was momentary.  At the level of kairos, experiential time, we cannot imagine how long it dragged on for.

We, too, will have hopes and dreams – God-given hopes and dreams – that lie dead.  And the Story of how God acts to reconcile all things does not violate that death.  Rather, Jesus comes to lie there next to us, to be one with us in our deaths, that we might become one with him in his life.  These things are mystery, too deep for words.  But if we ignore Saturday, then Easter is hollow and trite.

So Saturday precedes Sunday.  But even then, we need to be reminded of what Sunday brings.  Consider Mark’s account.  The women come to anoint Jesus’ body for burial, belatedly not only because he has risen, not even belatedly because he was already buried, but belatedly because he had already been anointed for his burial in advance.  They come asking a question that they don’t even realise is irrelevant, knowing only that they are compelled by their love.  And what they discover causes them to respond with alarm, trembling and bewilderment, to turn and run away, to keep silent.  They don’t even encounter the risen Jesus, but instead are asked to trust that they will – a trust they cannot respond with to begin with.  (And then there are those resurrection appearances where Jesus isn’t recognised at first...)

What begins on Sunday is, ultimately, Good News.  But if Sunday is answers and explanations, and celebration that has no room for celebrating through our tears or for having more questions raised than answered, it inevitably becomes trite news.  And if we have tamed the resurrection so that it is safe, if we have contained it within the limits of our own understanding, then for us, ironically, Jesus is still within the tomb...

So may we all have a most disturbing weekend, because the world is not transformed through platitudes but by the deep, rich Story of the Truth who comes to set us free.

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