Contrary to popular opinion, the Easter season does not end on Easter Sunday but rather continues for seven weeks. This is the time in our Christian calendar we remember and celebrate the risen Christ spending time with his followers preparing them for his ascension which concludes the season. Pentecost begins the move from Easter season to ‘Ordinary’ time and the church season of waiting, watching, and actively living into the hope that Christ will return.
Easter season is about embracing that we are a people of the Resurrection. It is acknowledging that God’s power, which raised Jesus from the dead, resides in each of us this moment. This Easter season the Lectionary epistle passages are from the book of 1 Peter which is a letter to a group of churches in Asia Minor facing uncertainty. There was pressure from outside and confusion from within. The apostle Peter addresses this head-on by reminding the people that this life is filled with important, vital, and yet temporal moments. He reminds them that their true hope is firmly in the hands of the risen Christ who can be trusted with eternity as well as today. The call is for the people to remain strong in this hope and to carry on in the face of whatever may be swirling.
Preaching the 1 Peter Easter season texts were chosen months ago without regard to what was happening in the world. You may call that a coincidence. I call it God’s grace.
Let me invite you to read through First and Second Peter over the next few weeks. I’ll be preaching on Sunday through the following passages in First Peter.
April 19 – 1 Peter 1:3-9
April 26 – 1 Peter 1:17-23
May 3 – 1 Peter 2:19-25
May 10 – 1 Peter 2:2-10
May 17 – 1 Peter 3:13-22
May 25 – 1 Peter 4:12–14, 5:6–11
It is Holy Saturday. The day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The day, as our Creeds say, “He descended to the dead.”
And already, my social media feeds are filled with Easter is coming!
Many want to move quickly past the silence of Saturday onto the great rush of emotion of Sunday. But let me urge you to resist doing that. Just sit in the silence. Be reminded that Jesus died and spent one Saturday descended to “hell” as one Creed says.
I won’t get into where he may have been and what he may have been doing. We will leave that to another day and time.
Too often, our society refuses to allow itself to simply grieve for the loss. We are uncomfortable with grief and silence so we fill it with platitudes and noise. Oh, we mean well. No one likes to see another person unhappy or grieving so we try our best to comfort. But what if the best thing we can do is simply sit with one another and allow the natural grief process, designed and given by God to bring healing, to do its subtle and important work?
The first Holy Saturday was a day of grief for Jesus’ followers. May we grow more comfortable in allowing it to be that way for us too. Experience the gravity of the day. Honor the loss of the first disciples and all others since including today by not rushing past but pushing in. Grief and hope are not mutually exclusive. In fact, grieving well, for those in Christ, is always done in the sure and certain hope that God is in control.
May we acknowledge, like the first disciples, that we do not know how this day (or season in our case) of trial and tribulation will end…and that there is much loss and much to grieve…and that we also know, in some way which defies description, that God remains in control.
The cross of Christ will never be a popular message. Good Friday is embraced primarily by the faithful who are humble and hungry. The cross assaults our sensibility. The crucifixion attacks our idea of justice. How can God assume the role of judge and the judged? How does forgiveness and judgment exist together in one moment of experience? Our hearts are unable to comprehend a person dying and that this death would be tied to our life.
18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.(1 Corinthians 1:18 NRSV)
What we see in Good Friday’s story is foolishness. And yet it is life. It is hard to grasp and understand but that was never the point or what we are asked to do. Rather, we are asked to believe it, experience it without looking away. For in Jesus’ death is our birth. For those who believe, this is not only a good Friday but the best of all days.