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Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).

Monday, 13 April 2009

Holy Saturday - a critical buffer zone

Someone greeted me on Friday with the words, "Happy Easter! Christ is Risen!" to which I was meant to respond "He is risen indeed!"
Being an awkward blighter I replied instead with the words, "But not until Sunday!"

I felt a little bad about that. The person in question was only trying to share their Christian joy.

But the serious point was that I worry about coming to Good Friday in such a way as to collapse the distinction between it and Easter Sunday. We treat Friday-Sunday as FsRuInday.

The collapsing of cross and resurrection is right in one respect: we must see the cross in the light of the resurrection the the resurrection in the light of the cross (the gospels clearly do, as did Jesus).

Nevertheless, as Alan Lewis so clearly pointed out in his book Between Cross and Resurrection, if we do not simultaneously see the events as distinct from each other we will miss much of their significance and depth. Lewis argues that we need to hear the story of the cross in stereophonic audio - simultaneously hearing the story in one ear as if we did not know the resurrection was coming yet in the other ear in the knowledge that God will not allow the story of Jesus to end in the grave.

For Lewis Easter Saturday stands there as a buffer zone simultaneously holding Friday and Sunday apart from each other and at the same time holding them together.

So whilst I feel a little bit bad about my gentle 'correction' I do think that there is something important at stake here. Namely, we must resist the premature collapse of death and resurrection which can so easily manifest itself in a triumphalist theology of glory with no space for a dark road that must be taken before glory. Sunday may be coming but let's not pretend that it has arrived when we experience the pain of Friday and the cold emptiness of Saturday.

The gospel story and the Christian liturgical tradition carefully hold Friday and Sunday together and apart. Wisdom is found in doing the same.

2 comments:

David Reimer said...

A the risk of being a comment bore ... a post yours has again struck a chord. A reflection on Holy Saturday, 14 April 1979:

"This is the quietest day of the year: no work, no great liturgical celebration, no visitors, no mail, no words. Just a very, very deep repose. A silent, in-between time. Lent is over but Easter has not yet come. He died, but we do not yet fully know what that means. The anxious, fearful tension of Good Friday is gone but no bells have yet been heard. ... Yes, a silent, joyful waiting. No panic, no despair, no screams, no tears or wringing of hands. No shouts of joy, either. No victorious songs, no banners or flags. Only a simple, quiet waiting with the deep, inner knowledge that all will be well. How? Do not ask. Why? Do not worry. Where? You will know. When? Just wait. Just wait quietly, peacefully, joyfully ... all well be well.

Henri Nouwen, A Letter of Consolation (HarperCollins, 1982), pp. 82-3.

Terry Wright said...

I've heard many a Good Friday sermon on Christmas Day (or during carol services, etc.), too. Not good.