The excitement of Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the intimacy of the Maundy Thursday meal, the uncertainty of the coming betrayal, and the agony of Good Friday leave us in need of a break… not from God, nor from worship, but from ourselves.
We have been caught in the cycle of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, ______, and Easter. Saturday becomes almost an an anticlimax, rather than the continuity of the four days. So, how do we fill that time on Saturday? Rushing around to get ready for the sunrise service? Making last minute family meal plans, baking, traveling, shopping? … You get the idea.
But what of our spiritual life on this Saturday? What happens then? Throughout church history until the rise of Rationalism in the 17th century, the Christian Church observed the Great Vigil on Saturday. See this blog, Gottesblog for more on the history and value of the service itself. Two quotes give us a glimpse of what the historic Church has known for centuries:
The recovery of this ancient and venerable tradition has been a key ingredient in the rediscovery of liturgical beauty and importance for Lutherans.
The Vigil is a bit lengthier than a regular Sunday mass, but for those who are aware and appreciative of what’s going on, time does not seem to be a factor.
Note that I am not suggesting we have to observe the Great Vigil as a formality. This year we do not formally observe the Easter Vigil at Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church. But in a sense we need to examine our lives during this week, and today in particular, and see if we need a spiritual refuge to bridge the gap from the trauma of Good Friday to the joy of Easter Sunday. The Great Vigil can provide that bridge. But we can also do that as we read the Gospel accounts, perhaps some Psalms about “waiting on the Lord”—
Wait with hope for the LORD. Be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Yes, wait with hope for the Lord. (Ps 27:14 GW)
Surrender yourself to the LORD, and wait patiently for him. (Ps 37:7 GW)
Wait calmly for God alone, my soul, because my hope comes from him. (Ps 62:5 GW)
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and with hope I wait for his word. (Ps 130:5 GW)
Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in the LORD will be renewed. (Isaiah 40:31 GW)
So, today becomes a day of waiting and hoping, anticipating the Easter victory of Jesus coming back to life. Rest in the Lord, wait for the Lord. It is worth your time, and when it comes to your spiritual welfare, “time does not seem to be a factor.”