Sabbath of the Savior: Oh Lord, I Was Never a Quick Scholar
Another morning and I wake with thirst
for the goodness I do not have. I walk
out to the pond and all the way God has
given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord,
I was never a quick scholar but sulked
and hunched over my books past the hour
and the bell; grant me, in your mercy,
a little more time. Love for the earth
and love for you are having such a long
conversation in my heart. Who knows what
will finally happen or where I will be sent,
yet already I have given a great many things
away, expecting to be told to pack nothing,
except the prayers which, with this thirst,
I am slowly learning.
-Mary Oliver, from Thirst
There are many different names for this Saturday in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday: Holy Saturday, Dark Saturday, and Black Saturday are some of them. But the name that speaks to me most is one of the older we know of: the Sabbath of the Savior.
This is the day when Jesus rested.
His work was done, he had loved even until the end, and now he lay in eternal rest.
Now, looking back on this story with Easter eyes, we know that his rest would not be truly eternal, at least not in the way we usually understand it. But it is imperative that we not rush ahead to Sunday morning and make the resurrection out to be an inevitability. As Fred Craddock puts it so powerfully: the tomb where Jesus lay was a cave, not a tunnel. If the cross is purely an an ends to a means that was never in doubt, then the sacrifice is cheapened. A far as the world knew that Saturday, Christ was dead--end of story.
For Christ, his work was done and now he rests just like so many beloveds we have lost through the years now rest and one day you will rest, one day I will rest. Christ's work is done and now he rests, waiting for God to respond. This is what the resurrection is at heart: God's response to the Christ-like life. As so many have said it before, God's emphatic "yes" to the world's "no."
And this is how it is for us as well. All we can do in this life is follow in the way of Christ and live with self-givng love toward others. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the incarcerated. All we can do is carry on the work that Jesus left for us and wait for God to respond.
Yes, Sunday is not far away and then our work truly will begin.
But tonight we rest with Christ.