“Waiting” – A Reflection for Holy Saturday

At the church I attended when I first moved to Vancouver 25 years ago, they had a tradition of maintaining a vigil from the end of the service on Good Friday until just before the Easter Vigil service late Saturday night.

Congregants would sign up for a time slot to come and watch and essentially “keep vigil” in the sanctuary. (I was young and fancy-free at the time, and my apartment in Vancouver’s West End was only a block from the church, so I’d take great delight in signing up for a middle-of-the-night (say, 2am?) time slot.

Being part of that vigil left an impression. It was a sacred experience to be sitting in that quiet sanctuary in the middle of the night, meditating; doing my part to keep watch, and wait. Of course, I could wait hopefully, in faith, for I knew what I was waiting for: Easter morning! I knew the ending to the story.

Jesus’ friends, though, didn’t know what was going to happen after his death – even though Jesus had tried to tell them. They couldn’t hear it, and even if they had, what he had been saying was too fantastic, too cryptic – and now, as they found themselves consumed with their fear and grief, all the words faded into the distant background.

The women. They waited nonetheless. They are the ones who remained at the foot of the cross as Jesus suffered and died. And they are the ones who continued to keep vigil, waiting for the Sabbath to be over so they could then make their way to the tomb, with their burial spices.

The women who knew and loved Jesus were not, like us, waiting for resurrection. They were not waiting for another miracle. After all, the one who had performed the miracles was no longer with them. No – they were simply waiting for their opportunity to go to the tomb, and engage their grief by tending Jesus’ body.

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In this time of virus, of pipelines and fracking, of cancer, climate change, child exploitation, mass poverty and increasing wealth disparity…

In this time of lost jobs, lost incomes, lost souls and lost lives…

In this time of waiting, carrying the grief of the world and the grief of our own lives, and perhaps even the sense of the absence of God…
What are we waiting for?

A stunningly impressive miracle that jolts us out of our grief and into a wondrous new day?
Do we even know what we wait for?

Easter morning is coming, but that’s not it either. Our faith, and the experience of the women at the tomb tell us that it will be something more subtle, partially hidden, perhaps a sign or experience that’s confusing at first, and which may take us time to recognize.

And until that happens, we wait.

                  – Rev. Sandra Nixon

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