Between the cross and the resurrection

If you are reading this on the day it is delivered to your mailbox, it is the day between the cross and the resurrection. In some Christian communities this day is called Holy Saturday. It’s the middle day between Good Friday, when Jesus was crucified and died on a Cross, and the third day, the feast of the Resurrection of our Lord, known to the world as Easter Sunday.

It is a day that usually gets lost at the end of Holy Week as people are getting ready for Easter celebrations, a day when Jesus rests and lies in the tomb. But those following Jesus on that first Easter, they really did not know that it was coming. Jesus had died on that cross and they seemed all alone.

It is hard for us to fully image this experience because we know the rest of the story. Even if we have washed one another’s feet on Thursday and shared in a love feast of the Last Supper, attended a Good Friday service or spent three hours with Jesus and others contemplating the cross, it is hard for us to really take in that Jesus was gone.

Maybe a way we can live into this is to think of a loved one who has died. To try on this day to live into the loss of Jesus, to grieve, to be in shock, to be in disbelief.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her book “On Death and Dying “set the stages of grief as Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. When a loved one dies we may experience some or all of these ways of grieving and in no particular order. For those who were there on the first Easter, in my opinion, there was not really time to get to acceptance, at least not a settled acceptance.

Our leader is gone. We thought he was from God! How could this happen? Why did God let it happen? What if he had been more careful with his words? What if we could have sneaked him off to a far away land? Are we next? Should we keep on hiding? What are we to do?

I am sure you can come up with more thoughts and feelings if you draw on loved ones close to you who have died and prayerfully think about what would be on our minds and hearts if we had physically walked with Jesus. Someone so loving who has been taken from our lives. We would be in a constant state of isolation, anger, bargaining and depression without God, who through the Holy Spirit always is with us, lovingly accepting and giving us everything as beloved children.

So this evening at an Easter vigil, or tomorrow at a sunrise or resurrection service, draw on this in between day to deepen and strengthen the joy of Resurrection Sunday — the Good News that Jesus is “Resurrection and Life”!

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

— Wagner-Pizza is the pastor at Trinity Episcopal Church in Williamsport.