Archive for Alan Lewis

Reflections on Holy Saturday II

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 14, 2009 by stephengardner

dark.tomb

Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.  Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid (Mark 15.46-47 NRSV).

Holy Saturday is a day of total bleakness, there is no future, only pain and broken hopes. Israel, it would appear, is not going to be redeemed. The Christ has been nailed to a tree and now buried under the earth, Joseph, who had been expecting the Kingdom, gathered the body of his messiah and laid him in his tomb. Right here is a problem. The problem of suffering and broken promises.We can learn much about the problem of suffering by pausing and reflecting on that dark day, between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Here resurrection is not permitted to verge upon the cross, instantaneously converting its death into life, still less to trespass death’s own borders and thus to identify the cross with glory. Instead, death is given time and space to be itself, in all its coldness and helplessness. (Lewis: 2001, 37)

Too often Christian theology makes light of suffering by immediately jumping to the future glory, or by looking for the ‘greater good’ that can be seen in the present. The problem of suffering remains a problem, and it must remain a problem. It is inevitable and indiscriminate, it disturbs our existence, invades our peace and destroys hopes. What is needed is a worldview that doesn’t pretend this isn’t the case. Rather, we need a worldview that acknowledges the inevitability of suffering and darkness.

God and suffering belong together, just as in this life the cry for God and the suffering experienced in pain belong together. The question about God and the question about suffering are a joint, common question… It is not really a question at all, in the sense of something we can ask or not ask, like other questions. It is the open wound of life in this world. It is the real task of faith and theology to make it possible for us to survive, to go on living, with this open wound. (Moltmann: 1981, 49)

By pausing and feeling the darkness of Holy Saturday much can be achieved in helping us to survive ‘with this open wound.’ How such a task will help form such a worldview is the goal of the next post.

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Reflections on Holy Saturday I

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 7, 2009 by stephengardner

auschwitz

The confusion, pain and sorrow of Holy Saturday seems an appropriate metaphor for the age in which we live. All too often our lives are interrupted by horror, we have become too familiar with ethnic cleansing, terrorism and tsunamis. And, at a personal level, our relationships are scarred. We feel the rejection of those who should welcome us, and we, ourselves, reject those we should accept.Where is God in all of this? What difference has Jesus made?
These questions, I’m sure, would have been echoed by those close to Jesus as he lay in the tomb on that Saturday. We get a glimpse of their disappointment as two of them set out for Emmaus on Easter Sunday.

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,  and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them,  but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.  And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,  and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.

Like those first disciples, we often feel the disappointment of unanswered questions – ‘what has happened to the redemption Jesus promised?’ – ‘what difference has he made to my life now?’

Yet, we live with a certainty that was not present on Holy Saturday. What happened that Easter Sunday as the disicples walked with this mysterious stranger? The realisation of his glorious vindication, triumph and transforming power. Its this tension I hope to explore a little over the next week or so, reflecting on Holy Saturday as a metaphor for the present day. To borrow a phrase from Alan Lewis, we stand between yesterday and tomorrow.