It’s early. Everyone else (with the exception of Sandi, of course) is still asleep. It’s that odd day sandwiched between the cross of Good Friday and the empty tomb of Easter morning. Holy Saturday has arrived. And this year, it’s come with a hard freeze.
It seems appropriate, somehow. The bed feels so warm. It’s hard to get up; ought to just snuggle back in and…sleep… for a little while… longer. It’s as if our Lord has reached down through the weather and added his own personal ornament to this tree of celebration we call Holy Saturday. Our lord is dead- sleeping in a bed of stone. It’s the Sabbath, the day of rest, the last day of the week- the last day of existence for the old cursed creation. In the morning death will die, but she doesn’t know it yet. Already, the righteous poison is working its way through her system, but she is unaware.
There’s a scene at the end of the movie HellBoy, which reminds me of what our God was up to on these three precious days over two thousand years ago. Hellboy is facing Behemoth, a huge demonic being. To look at them, the battle is hopeless. Behemoth is huge, and mean and powerful. Hellboy is all of these things, but not when scaled against his opponent. When they battle, our hero appears small and weak. Finally, the inevitable happens. Behemoth swallows the small opponent- not even needing to chew. That was yesterday- Good Friday. Death devoured our Savior and champion.
The beast belches in satisfaction- sitting back on its wormlike haunches, but for those who have ears to hear a high pitched whine can be heard. Hellboy has activated the grenades he strapped to his body before purposefully provoking the beast. For those who understand, things have just taken a drastic turn. That’s today- Holy Saturday. Death has taken He-who-has-life-within-Himself…He who is life itself, into its belly.
With sudden realization, a troubled expression passes for the shortest of moments across the “face” of the behemoth before the demon explodes from the very heart of its own belly. That will be tomorrow- Easter morning. Death’s carcass will lie gaping and defeated for all creation to see.
The icon of the resurrection makes all of this perfectly clear. Christ is standing on the burst gates of death and hell- helping those who have been held in its grasp to their feet. He has descended into hell. He died as fully as any man or woman has ever died. His solidarity with us is complete. This, the incarnation made possible. God cannot die, but creatures can. Those who receive life as a gift can be forced to give it up. And so death made claim on this man- just as he does on every man and woman that Christ came to save. But this particular morsel was indivisibly and inseparably united to Life itself. Death had taken its own destruction into its own heart. Death was destroyed by death. That is the message of Holy Saturday. Our sorrow is not replaced. Our sorrow is transformed.
I need to get up and moving. Last night’s Good Friday Service is still heavy on my heart. We left him in the tomb. We left the darkened sanctuary sorrowful and silent.
It is what it is: Our Savior is among the dead.
But sometime, later in the morning my heart will begin to sing. An epiphany will begin to work its solace through my consciousness. Death has swallowed unending and unconquerable life. Damned death is surely damned.
It is what it is: Our savior is among the dead. Hallelujah!
Now, we just have to wait for the bang….