Meditation written by Cathy Tamsberg.
Read by Colleen Farris.
“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it,” says writer Joan Didion in The Year of Magical Thinking, her book about the sudden death of her husband of forty years. Today is Holy Saturday, the day after the crucifixion of Jesus. As far as anyone knows, the man who fed the hungry, healed the sick, stood up for the poor, and proclaimed a new world order where all would be fed, healthy, and have what they need is dead. Buried in a tomb with a guard at the entrance. Gone from the world and never to return.
It is hard for us to imagine the grief, fear, and even anger Jesus’ friends and followers feel on this sad day. For some it is the loss of a close personal friend they loved. For thousands it is the loss of a teacher, a healer, a prophet. For all it is a loss of hope. Just when they were beginning to believe things might change, he was gone. There had to be fear as well. If the Romans killed Jesus, would they pursue his followers next? Peter was worried enough to deny that he even knew Jesus when challenged the night before the crucifixion. Certainly others were afraid for their lives. And there may have been some anger as well—at the Romans, the religious leaders, and even at Jesus himself. You can imagine some of the disciples thinking, “I left everything—family, work, home—to follow this man because I thought he could change things. What do I do now?” Some of us are disappointed when political or business or religious leaders don’t make the changes they promised to make. Can we imagine how the disciples felt when this man who claimed to be God’s messenger, the Messiah the Jews had awaited, died just like any other human would?
Today, as you reflect on what Easter means for you, put yourself in the place of the followers of Jesus on the day before Easter. Consider how hopeless and afraid they felt. Then remember those around the world who yearn for a “messiah” who will relieve their suffering and end the oppression that is their daily reality. Pray for those who are grieving, including yourself, and consider ways you can offer hope for those who experience hopelessness like the friends of Jesus did on this day. Take comfort in confidence of the today’s psalmist, who says, “My times are in your hand.” (Psalm 31:15) This is also the one Jesus draws upon for his final prayer: “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” (v. 5)
This meditation is from “Lent: Sowing Season, Holy Time,” a collection of daily readings by Associate Pastor Cathy Tamsberg. Each day during Lent, from Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013, to Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013, a new excerpt read by a member of the Pullen congregation will be made available. To hear each day’s reading as it is published, subscribe to Pullen’s RSS feed, or listen to the podcast in iTunes.