Saturday, March 30, 2013

Holy Saturday

On this Sabbath day, there is only silence. Like the enamored Lady of the Song of Songs, we can only say, I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer (Song of Songs 3.1). No answer.

Silenced is that very Word, eternally begotten of God the Father, with God from the beginning, who is truly God. All things were created by and for and through this Word that then drew all our utterances out of the cacophonous void into the light of meaningful language. This is the very Word that spoke the story of Creation. But the story has ceased. And now we are left in the stillness and silence of this Sabbath Day – this Holy Saturday.

It is no happenstance of history that Holy Saturday is a Sabbath Day. In a world of loud and grinding words and stories working out schemes of domination and violence, the eternal Word, embodied in Jesus Christ, was Lord of the Sabbath – Shabbat Adonai – (Mark 2.28). He was the embodiment of the Sabbath, and his life proclaimed and enacted, in word and deed, the everlasting Jubilee Year – the Sabbath of the Sabbath years. For it is on the Sabbath when God provides our daily bread (Exodus 16.23-29) and all people – Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave and free – are made equal and one (Exodus 20.9-10). And in the Word made flesh our stories found their Sabbath rest (Matthew 11.28). In Jesus Christ we find our Sabbath rest.

But now he has been laid to rest. His work being done, his body has been returned to the fallow earth – to the depths of sheol, to the silence, to hell, to that place where the Word is heard no more. That place to which we are all bound when our bodies are laid down in the grave and our stories are silenced. This Word once burst in upon our deafness and gave us ears to hear, yet no word escapes the silence of that place.

I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer.

— The Rev. Nicholas Forti

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