This morning, the church was decked out in flowers and light, there was a new Paschal Candle and everything was back in place after the desolation and violence of the past few days.
There was much rejoicing.
All seemed well with the world.
Then I remembered how Mark’s gospel ends:
So they* went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
and I didn’t feel quite so triumphant.
I’m not quite sure what I think any more.
I’m very happy to celebrate a victory that was won on our behalf (that we had no hand in winning, and indeed was won despite our best efforts) and I will be eternally grateful that what Jesus did has set things right between God and us, but the awareness that we are still a work in progress and have been given a job to do that our incompleteness will continue to get in the way of is leaving that celebration feeling a little muted.
*Mary and the other women who had gone to embalm Jesus but encountered mysterious men in white instead of a corpse.
Let me preface this entry by saying that only Roy Wood wished it could be Christmas every day.
I’ve heard a lot of discussion about today – usually involving phrases such as “resurrection people”, “Sunday’s coming” and “sure and certain hope”. None of which fills me with the intended joy and reassurance.
I don’t know too much about church traditions concerning Holy Saturday – except concerning the Harrowing of Hell (what Jesus is said to have done whilst he was resting in peace) and that most of the disciples, having slunk off and abandoned him already must have been feeling in a pretty sorry state.
Lent itself is six weeks of reflection and preparation leading up to Passiontide, and jumping straight from Good Friday to Easter Sunday morning seems to me akin to ripping open our Christmas presents before they’ve even been put under the tree.
Our best friend, leader and only hope has been cruelly murdered, we’re in fear for our own lives and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel – we’re lost and utterly without hope. I, for one, am grateful that the church allows one day a year to commemorate the lost, hopeless confusion that many of us find to be the staples of our every day life.
With thanks to @rozzietheaussie for her massive help with the video editing.
The stripping of the altar (and surrounding area) felt particularly brutal this year. I found myself thinking ‘surely not that?’ as yet another not-nailed-down item of furniture, book, candle stand, or altar cloth was carried out past those of us who remained after the main service. When our statue of Mary was manhandled out of her stand and hauled away down the aisle it seemed alike like a personal, physical attack (and this to somebody with mostly protestant tendencies with regards to Our Lady).
When there was nothing left to remove, they turned out the lights, leaving us sitting at the altar of repose – tiny, lit up with lots of candles in coloured glass bowls, daffodils and a monstrance replete with host – a tiny oasis of light and life in the centre of the desolation occurring before us.
I’m now sitting at the high-altar rail, comfortable in the quiet and dark, and feeling welcomed by God, barely noticing one more extinguished candle and looking at the shrouded cross and the open aumbry (safe where the reserved sacrament is usually kept) – door flung wide, with no body inside, in a bleak foreshadowing of Sunday morning.