Holy Saturday is where the world lives now, awaiting resurrection. There is darkness that remains despite all Easters. Christians need to be honest about this reality even as we boldly confess and proclaim the reality of the Resurrection.
Those who follow Christ don’t live in denial, certainly not about the pain and tragedy of existence.
Miscarriages of children. Miscarriages of justice. Senseless killings. In Kenya, this Holy Week, 147 young Christian men and women gunned down in the prime of their lives by fanatics. Broken bones that don’t heal right. Marriages that are on life support. Cancer. Parkinson’s. MS. Lost homes. Lost jobs. Lost children. Wars that claim our loved ones.
When we live in denial about these and other real life struggles—and denial can be simply tuning out the darkness with false enthusiasm—it’s hard for the world to receive our very good news that all of this death is not the end; that the death of Jesus means that death is now everywhere in retreat, even if we cannot always see that.
It’s also harder for us to engage suffering strangers and acquaintances with authentic compassion, mercy, and empathy when we refuse to stay with Jesus at the crosses or tombs of life. It’s hard to be patient in our own sufferings, or endure the anguish of those closest to us—to see them as a participation in Christ’s hardships—when we expect every day to be Easter.
When we live in denial, it’s hard to sustain honest community, to engender churches where folks who doubt and struggle with faith and obedience are as welcome as those who are certain and assured; where those who labor in the heat all day are glad for the companionship of those who show up for work at the last minute.
It’s hard to keep it real when you are living Easter in denial; in denial that others—others in the pew next to yours—are living Holy Saturday or even—Christ, have mercy—gutting it out through a personal Good Friday. More of my Easter sermon is now out on Patheos: