Saturday, March 31, 2018

Holy Saturday: Nothing To Do But Wait


I don't like doing nothing. The thought of going on vacation and lounging around all day makes me want to stay at work. I may be extreme in my impatience, but I don't think I'm unusual. None of us likes empty waiting. As Seth said in his sermon this morning, when sitting in a doctor's waiting room, we'd rather look at old magazines, balance our checkbook, or clean our our e-mail inbox than sit and wait. In the emptiness, our mind goes to places we'd rather it not go.

Even now, the Flower Guild and Altar Guild are buzzing around the church, transforming it from the dim light of Holy Saturday into the glory of Easter. Like family and friends after the death of a loved one, they scurry to take care of the necessary (and unnecessary) arrangements. "Just give me a job to do," we say to anyone who appears to be in charge. We'd rather do anything than sit and wait.

But, today, there is nothing to do but wait. Easter preparations aside, on this day, the followers of Jesus have nothing to do but wait. I'm indebted to the dedicated members of the Flower and Altar Guilds both for their hard work and also for allowing us to begin this morning with the quiet service of watching and waiting and praying that falls on Holy Saturday. They didn't have to do that. They could have turned the lights all the way on and set about their work first thing this morning, but, they didn't. They stopped. They waited. They honored this day and our Lord's death by doing nothing but waiting for a few minutes.

The service in the prayer book for Holy Saturday is less than a page long. It consists only of collect, readings, anthem, the Lord's Prayer, and the Grace. That's it. Even the gospel lesson is something we heard only yesterday. It's the end of the Passion of our Lord--the part when Joseph and Nicodemus prepare Jesus' body for burial and lay it in the tomb. That event has already happened. That happened just before sunset on Friday. Even the gospel itself is silent on this day. There is nothing new to say. All we can do is sit and recall what we witnessed yesterday.

Today will be busy enough. I must acknowledge that. I need to put finishing touches on a sermon, practice my chanting, set up for the Vigil, and encourage all of the people who work hard to make our celebration of Easter happen. At home, we have baseball practice and last-minute shopping to do. I don't know much time will be left to sit around and wait. Part of me is glad for that. It's easier to keep busy than to sit by the tomb. But another part of me is sad to think that I might fill today with stuff so that I don't have to face the reality of this day. Waiting is hard, but it's valuable. It isn't empty after all. We are changed in and through our waiting because we do not wait alone.

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