Our Lenten Journey... The tomb
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life.
~ Romans 6:3 - 4
I remember years ago the scene of a terrible auto accident near the place where I worked. It caused the morning rush to be brought to a complete stop for nearly two hours, and then a crawl. Each of us guilty of looking at the scene as we drove by it. Pieces of the cars involved strung out for hundreds of feet in all directions. The scene was horrific, and several people lost their life.
On the way home that evening, there were cars parked along the edge of the road. Several people had gathered and were placing a cross near the feeder marking the spot where the accident had occurred, and flowers were being brought to the site.
For us, these scenes are not uncommon. We live in a society that erects crosses where tragedy has struck.
Mary, the Disciples, and who knows how many saw THE cross erected, where the tragic death of a son and friend was witnessed.
When I think of "Holy Saturday" as many call this day, my mind thinks of the scene where Jesus' death occurred, and the tomb where he was hastily laid as the sun set on that tragic day.
I doubt many gathered at the cross or the tomb, as it was the Sabbath, and whether Jew or Gentile, soldiers would have regarded the gathering of any person as an act against Rome, and the person may face a similar fate of Jesus.
I always have wondered, however, about one person. Lazarus.
One person who understood what it meant to die, and to be placed in a dark tomb.
Did Lazarus, with the crowd that had gathered, watch as his friend, the one that others had referred to as "the one he loved," stand and watch as well? Did he follow and watch as his friend was placed into the tomb, and did he listen as the slam of the stone met the the stone entrance, scraping just a bit, before settling into place?
Did he watch as soldiers were instructed on where to stand and what actions were to be taken with anyone who tried to approach?
I wonder if while he watched, did he call out in his mind, or vocally, "Jesus, can you hear me? Please come forth, just as you called me, I need to see your face?"
Did he continue to remain close, as he watched those who took Jesus to the tomb, slowly walk away, holding one another?
Did he feel as the earth seemed to tremble with each step, shaking from this event still? There were no birds singing, as people returned to their homes to light candles and pray.
The ground was damp, from the horrific storm, and the whole world seemed to be silent.
For Lazarus, and many others who had walked with Jesus and shared so much more, this silence had to remind them of their lives before meeting Jesus.
On this "Holy Saturday," we now try to fill the day with events, like Easter Egg Hunts, or decorating sanctuaries with Easter lilies and gardens with bright blooms, but while all of this is going on, there is this that I ask, "Have you felt the earth tremble? Have you thought of the tomb holding the body of Jesus? And have you thought of what your life was like prior to meeting and knowing who Christ is in your own life?"
While we search, we know that in our own relationship God is always present. BUT, on this day, God seemed to be absent for people like Lazarus, and others, who looked, and wondered, "What just happened?" The time in the tomb was necessary. It is also necessary for us.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Dear God, today I pray for the silence that the world felt the day that you died. For each of us who seem to feel the need to remain busy to avoid the thought of Your death upon the cross. Help us to keep You holy on this sacred day. Amen.
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Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.