HOLY WEEK: RECOLLECTION
Luke 23: 50-56 (NRSV)
Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.
On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
And now we wait…
We are so fortunate to be living on the other side of Jesus’ resurrection, aren’t we? Can you imagine how sad, confused, angry, lost, and despairing Jesus’ followers, family and friends must have felt on that Sabbath? There must have been SO many questions, so many doubts, so many emotions, so many fears. We can imagine them being anxious to reassure and comfort one another, figure out new plans, or perhaps even flee. But it was the Sabbath, and they were to rest. They had to remain with their broken dreams, their private grief, and their unanswered questions…
Was this all for nothing? Was Jesus who he claimed to be? Were we misled? Did I miss something? What do I do now? Where did we go wrong? Who is to blame for this terrible ending? Why did Jesus not save himself? Where is our Messiah? Will I be the next to die? That Sabbath was filled with the anxious uncertainty of many unanswered questions.
No one was able to know what was going on inside of the dark tomb that day. There was a huge stone covering the opening. Everyone remained in Sabbath quiet rest, away from the burial garden. Silence and sorrow prevailed.
Our word for today is Remain. There are times when we must simply remain with the question before us. An answer hasn’t come or isn’t clear. And when the question is one that makes us uncertain, uncomfortable, or anxious, we don’t remain with the silence very well. We want answers. We want to find reasons. We want to locate someone who can help. We want to resolve issues. We want to know what next steps to take. We want clarity. We want to figure out a plan. We want to move on. We want our lives to make sense.
Our times of uncertainty and unanswered questions can feel like the anxious waiting outside that dark, closed tomb. But in these silent waiting times, God is still at work- especially at work- within us. We need to remain with the question until we have learned what it holds for us. We need to remain outside the tomb, while God is transforming and resurrecting new life in the answer that as yet lies hidden inside the darkness. We need to remain… and we need to allow God to be God.
Today we are to remain before the silence of the quiet tomb. Today we are to remain before the silence of unanswered questions. But we remain with hope in our hearts. We KNOW the glorious answer that will soon emerge from the darkness. We are living on the other side of the Resurrection!
Today we wait before the quiet, dark tomb. We wait for your glorious work to be revealed in Jesus’ resurrection. Today we wait before the quiet, dark of our own unanswered questions. We wait for your glorious work to be revealed in us. Thank you that we can wait with hope. Amen.
(I have always loved this quote… I hope it speaks to you today.)
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke