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Dying to Live and the Pain of Holy Saturday

It is Holy Saturday. Jesus is dead. Two rich and powerful men took his dead body, wrapped it in burial clothes soaked in spices, and laid it in a garden tomb. The disciples hid in fear that the soldiers would come for them next.

The air is strangely silent. The crowds are no longer shouting in the streets. The blood from the Passover lambs has dried. The dishes from the feast have been put away. The religious leaders breathe a regretful sigh of relief that the city will live to see another day having bypassed the impending massacre from the Roman troops.

And everyone wonders, “What was the point of all this?”

I sit on this quiet Saturday morning and look out the window at another thin layer of snow on my back yard. The calendar tells me it is Spring, but Winter clutches mercilessly to the corpse of my trees, grass, and garden.

Things die. Loved ones die after long, painful journeys of disease. Dreams die after years of striving. Relationships die after countless hours of therapy. Organizations die as culture shifts around them.

It may seem morbid to focus on death today. Wasn’t that the point of yesterday’s Good Friday experiences. Can’t we move on to the good stuff?

Not yet.

Today is less about death, and more about waiting. The stone is rolled over the tomb. We can no longer see the body. The blanket of snow covers the grass. Every sign of life is hidden and we feel numb.

This is what anthropologists call liminal space. It is the time between times. We have left one thing but are not yet to the thing we long to become. And we wait.

If you have read this far, then you may have interest to dig deeper. This post was actually prompted by a listener question sent in to our Carry On podcast this week. The question wondered about theories of atonement, or what was the point of Jesus death? I offer three resources to help you process Jesus’ death and our own experiences of death and liminality.

The first is Richard Rohr’s meditations from this week. He speaks about the necessary process of death and resurrection in spiritual formation.

Growing in Love’s Likeness: Weekly Summary

The second is a post I wrote last August called Growing Out of Hell that brings Rohr’s teaching together with some other thinkers to discuss how the Way of the Cross is the necessary process of moving into maturity.

Growing Out of Hell

Finally, here is a video from the OMG series that deals directly with theories of atonement and why Jesus had to die.

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Comments
  • Pam March 31, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Thank you! I appreciate the links. This really is good news !

  • Lynda Czarnetzki April 1, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Thanks Pastor Steve for the thought provoking view of Atonement and the message this morning at Easter. We are called to see, believe and share the Good News that Jesus Christ died and lives again for us. Amen. He is Risen. He is Risen indeed. Alleluia.

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