Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday March 26, 2016
Courtesy of Matthew Brodeur and Unsplash
Courtesy of Matthew Brodeur and Unsplash

*Note: This is a guest post by Jeff Turner

“God himself lies dead.” -Hegel (quoting from a Lutheran hymn by Johann Von Rist)

The Saturday in between Good Friday and Sunday morning is, perhaps, where the honest believer spends a good part of their life. I’m not talking Christologically, but experientially. Yes, we acknowledge the resurrection as key and central to our faith, but the “Saturday” experience of the first disciples is still what most of our lives look like.

There is a tragic and traumatic “death of God” that occurs when we behold the Crucified One, and realize that the triumphalist divine dictator, who has entered the world precisely to congratulate us for getting him so right in our depictions of him as all powerful and almighty in the very way that humans crave power and might, is a fraud, and a product of our imaginations and no more. When very God himself dies under the intensity of our mad, power-craving, might-pursuing violence, and foregoes any right he might have to repay us in kind, responding instead in kindness, the all powerful, almighty “gods” of myth and legend meet their end, and it is revealed that the true Creator looks nothing like the beings we’ve crafted in the image of our own evolved-to-survive selves.

This death not only occurs in the crucifixion narrative, but any time we come face to face with it in our day to day lives. God is not the talionic-Tarzan, who swoops in on a golden vine to punish our enemies and rescue us from all harm. Things simply do not always work that way. We live in a chaotic, Job-like universe where we rarely experience eschatological glory, but mostly just the scatological and the gory. This is Saturday. Where we lose the “god” we believed was, and search for the One who actually is.

At the same time, and I’m speaking purely metaphorically here, this Saturday is a Sabbath of sorts. For truly, when we embrace the hard truth that scat happens, and it has nothing to do with what I’ve done or left undone, there is a peace that comes with it. I’m no longer forced to find out where I went wrong and why I brought such and such tragedy down on my head, nor do I need to discover what currency heaven is using so that I can purchase my way back into God’s good graces. No, when I realize that Saturday just happens, I can rest. I do not have to create a “god” who repays evil with evil, and has decided that “eye for an eye” was a good idea after all, but can “Sabbath” in the knowledge that things are happening as they do in a universe that is not aware I’m living in it, or behaving accordingly.

This Saturday, where “God himself lies dead,” so to speak, is the day where our idols die, and we come to find who God really is in a world that doesn’t always make sense. It’s here that we learn what a theology of the cross and tomb really is, and it prepares us for resurrection. Why do I say it prepares us for resurrection? Remember how, when Jesus finally does emerge victorious, his disciples and followers often have a hard time recognizing him. This isn’t because he underwent plastic surgery in the underworld, but because Saturday smashes our idols, and so when we come face to face with the true God, and our old paradigms simply won’t work anymore, we find a God who looks nothing like the thing we once thought he was. Resurrection is not simply a matter of getting back the same God who died, but the first time discovery of a God you never really knew because you shrouded his face with idolatrous notions. Once Saturday thoroughly smashes those notions, however, God, who he is, how he interacts with the world, etc., becomes something that must be discovered for the very first time.

Today is Saturday, and perhaps, in some way, shape or form, your God lies dead. I know it’s rough, I’m there to some degree myself. But don’t rush the process. Don’t go digging him up and pulling a “Weekend at Bernie’s.” Let him lie dead. Let Saturday teach you to rest in the fact that what you lost, you lost for a reason. Your notions, my notions of God must die, so that we can discover for the first time, the living God of Sunday.


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