Tom Petty sang it well: “The waiting is the hardest part.”
Today is Good Friday. In Christian liturgy, it’s the day we reflect on the death of Jesus.
Throughout the globe and here in the U.S. so many who have lost loved ones to the ravages of coronavirus mourn. Christians reflect on their deaths and the continued threat of the virus in the liturgical setting of Good Friday and of Holy Saturday.
Weeks ago, Trump expressed the desire see the churches across America filled on Easter Sunday. That’s not going to happen. Thankfully, reason and science held sway for the moment and Trump backed off that aspiration.
So much of the country will still be sheltering in place on Easter Sunday–streaming services and sermons that speak of hope, of rebirth, of resurrection.
In the Christian tradition of Easter, the resurrection celebration on Sunday follows the somber moments of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Holy Saturday in particular, when the body of the crucified Christ lay in the tomb, is the period of somber uncertainty. It is the moment of uncertainty.
It is the waiting–and the waiting is the hardest part.
The theologian Martin Luther referred to the “theology of glory” as an approach to Christianity that skips over the suffering, jumps past the hardship, and neglects the cross. For Luther, the crucified one is central to an understanding of Christianity–and of God. The crucified one unsettles self-righteousness and crumbles boasting. The cross also affirms the grit of human experience–including the sickness and the suffering. The cross unsettles our easy assumptions about God and about life itself.
Kierkegaard–who was a Lutheran of a certain ilk–poked at the bear of Christendom for what he perceived as a skimming over the suffering, the pain, the waiting and wanting of life in favor of a quick and easy resurrection. If the life, the voluntary suffering, and the death of Jesus is crucial to Christianity, then why is Christianity so good at suppressing it?
Some prefer to skip over the hardship and the suffering, to bypass Good Friday and Holy Saturday. They want the resurrection and they want it now–even when that is premature.
That’s not what the Christian liturgy expresses. The death of Good Friday and the uncertainty of Holy Saturday can’t be bypassed.
The waiting is the hardest part.
Easter is a resurrection after the somber tears of Maundy Thursday. After Good Friday has made itself known. After Holy Saturday has had its time.
As people of faith, let us we stand with our governors, our doctors, and our scientists, who urge upon us the gravity of the situation while also attending to evidence of optimism and glimmers of hope. Even where we may see light at the end of the tomb, may we remain as diligent as possible to the measures that are in place.
May we know and reflect upon the fullness of the Easter season during this time of unknowing–of Good Friday Holy Saturday.
Let resurrection come–but in its proper time.