Two Reflections from our Holy Saturday Meditative Service at St Andrew’s:
At the bottom of the cross, stands the main characters. But not all of them, just some.
Some who stayed, for they could do no other. But nobody else.
You, me, or maybe we’ve fled too..But certainly John the Beloved disciple, Mary’s Mother – Mary’s Sister the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene.
Everyone. has gone, and we are left behind to look and stare in our shock and our horror.
The rest of the disciples have fled –
Those who couldn’t even wait up with him, didn’t even watch him breathe his last.
Perhaps we are not at the foot of the cross, maybe you are on the cross beside Jesus – the criminal yearning for salvation for Christ and yourself from the agony of the nails. ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ said the criminal…one of many.
He said to Jesus, ‘Jesus, remember me when your come into your kingdom’
And Jesus said to him: ‘Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise’.
I wonder where is your paradise? Where do you long to be?
Jesus calls the criminals to look beyond the cross. To see beyond their present pain and agony, to hold on to the promise, that even they, guilty though they may be – will be with him in Paradise.
We too, are called to look beyond the cross. To look beyond the splintered wood, beyond our bleeding wounds and the wounds of our Lord, to see that new breath of life that comes with the last breath of Christ.
Contained in the pattern of breathing is the whole story of our salvation. For a Christian in prayer the very act of breathing can become a return to our both: a receiving of original life from the very breath of God, as we breathe we breathe with Adam in the Garden of our beginnings, as we breathe we breathe with Abraham and Moses, as we breathe we breathe with Mary in the presence of the Angel Gabriel, as we breathe we breathe with Our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross…
Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’ and having said this he breathed his last.
Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers: go, make it as secure as you can.’ So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.
The possibility of Christ’s resurrection clearly troubled Pilate.
He didn’t just want Jesus dead, but he wanted a guarantee that he was gone, and gone for good.
You might think that seeing a man nailed to a cross and having his side pierced would be guarantee enough.
But not for Pilate.
Those who received Christ’s love and care in life are the very one’s who now, in his death care for his body.
And it is at this time, in Jesus’ death that we declare in the creeds, something we will not hear proclaimed from the pulpit, nor do we remember it, Christ’s descent into hell.
We say in the creeds: I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried;
He descended into hell, on the third day he rose again from the dead, he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
As Jesus descends and ascends he both rescues from the depths those who had no chance of salvation before his crucifixion and in his ascension he takes into the purity of God all the sins of the world.
Like the story of Lent and Easter, we are challenged by the death of Christ – the fact that Christ was dead dead, and not just sort of dead.
It leads us to think of our own death, of what we truly believe is at work in death…on Holy Saturday there is little glimpse of hope to be seen, but as we know, in the morning – early in the morning, when Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb…
Pilates worst fears are realized.
But we don’t get there yet, for now we sit in the discomfort and disruption of death and separation….in that place where those who stayed with Jesus, mostly the women who loved Jesus, we sit in that place and contemplate Christ’s call that we stay with him…
Remain with him.
Watch and pray.