Holy Saturday. We stand at the threshold. At the frontier. One world has ended. A new one is upon us.
Holy Saturday. A holy “pause” before the new creation comes bursting forth in the resurrected body of the Lord.
Buried deep in the collective memory of ancient Israel was a foundation-story. A tale that set the trajectory for everything else. A narrative that gave coherence and meaning to Israel’s existence.
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
“Formless and empty” is an eery expression in Hebrew: tohu-wabohu. Prior to Elohim’s creative word, the earth was a shapeless void… a horrifying black lay over the face of the watery abyss…
…there was “ruach” – Spirit, Wind, Breath.
From one point of view we may say that the darkness was a terrifying spectre. But from another… perhaps we may be so bold as to say that the darkness was also something of a covering of intimacy… between Elohim and the world he was about to bring into being… For “breath” denotes intimacy… wherever there is “breath”, there is also a “face”… over the watery abyss, over the “tohu-wabohu”, Elohim was breathing his sweet breath. Newness was about to burst forth from the waters.
And so it did.
An eruption of light… a separation of waters… dry ground, jutting forth from the deep… the formlessness being brought to form… the void being filled with fullness… fruit and vegetables… living creatures… filling water and sky… and then…
The crowning achievement of Elohim’s works – Man; made in Elohim’s image and likeness. An impress of the unseen God, fashioned to cultivate and safeguard Elohim’s kingdom like viceroys.
Formlessness. Breath. Six days. An explosion of newness. Man. Then Sabbath…
Holy Week. 6 days it took Elohim to separate and fill, and to finish his creative works with a flourish. 6 days it took us to reverse creation. For the living Logos, the Author of Life, appeared among us in flesh, making claims on us that only he could make.
We should have submitted to him.
Our usurpatious selves angrily demanded his demise. We’ll have Creation – and our “selves” – without God, thank you. We got what we asked for. And more… For on the sixth day God made Man, with dignity and beauty.
And on the sixth day – Friday – Man made a mockery of himself by throwing God up on a cross.
The execution of the Son is the reversal Elohim’s creative works BY his works.
And so here we are. Holy Saturday. The Old Creation has been brought to an end. Man has nullified himself. He has plunged himself back into darkness…
Which means that the stage is set, for we know how Elohim characteristically behaves in such situations.
We are told in the Gospels – each of them – that when Jesus, tormented in body and soul on the cross, had given up a loud cry… he “breathed” his last. He exhaled the “pneuma”.
Our imaginations are yanked back to Genesis… and so it is again… over the “tohu-wabohu” of Jesus’ body, the the darkness of Golgotha and later, of the Tomb, the Pneuma hovers… and we are on the edge of our seats.
Holy Saturday is the “pause” before another – this time indestructible – Creation bursts forth from the womb of death.
And so we cry out with the Church on Holy Saturday:
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
2 O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins. (Ps 130)
Indeed. With Elohim and his Life-giving Spirit, the story is never over.
Holy Saturday is “Holy Breath” day, a day to know that, wherever you are, whenever you are, whatever you’re doing, in whatever circumstance you find yourself in… when death and darkness reign… when your life ebbs away… when you feel cold and alone and naked… when your own foolish choices have made a mockery of your dignity, and it feels like everything’s run out of steam…
Just know that this is Elohim’s favorite time. His Countenance hovers over darkness like a lover before the face of the beloved. In the “space between” there is Sweet Breath. Holy Breath. And resurrection is right around the corner.
More than the watchmen wait for the morning…
We wait for you Lord God.