It was storming the day my dad was buried. The rain pounding so ferociously that we couldn’t go to the gravesite. Rather, we held the committal service in a mausoleum, and he was interred later. I have never been to the actual grave. Some people find solace in visiting the graves of loved ones. Others enjoy looking at old tombstones and noting the dates and times of those long gone. There is often a sense of peace to be found wandering through a cemetery.
Matthew reports that Joseph of Arimathea, asked for the body of Jesus and Pilate allowed him to take it for burial. John notes that Nicodemus brought a mixture of spices to anoint the body. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there also, sitting opposite the tomb. The afternoon stillness melded into the sunset and the two women hurried home to prepare for the Sabbath.
We know nothing of what occurred on Saturday. The disciples, still in shock and fear, were hidden away. The women planned for the Sabbath and the following day when they would visit Jesus’ tomb and properly anoint his body.
There is a stillness to Sabbath. It is intended to be a day of rest, ordained by God at the conclusion of creation, it is meant to be a day for regeneration and reflection. The customary greeting on the Sabbath is Shabbat Shalom. Shabbat is Hebrew for Sabbath, and Shalom means peace. It is a common greeting on Friday evening or throughout the day until evening on Sabbath (Saturday). In the exchange of this greeting one is wishing another peace on the Sabbath or wishing them the peace that the Sabbath itself brings.
On this Holy Saturday I wish you Shabbat Shalom. Shalom is a word that means wholeness of relationships; with God and with other people. It is important on Holy Saturday to stop and take the time to reflect on our relationship with God. Lent is the most sacred time of the church year. It is an inward journey that follows the steps of Jesus to Jerusalem, to Golgotha, and ultimately into the arms of the Father. Lent confronts us with the need to examine what that journey means in our lives. Our journey is intended to bring us to Shalom; that is, wholeness in our relationship with God. When we experience Shalom in our oneness with God, we will find it easier to be in healthy relationships with our families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
The challenge today is to be still. Easter egg hunts are fun, but not the essence of the day. The psalmist wrote, Be still, and know that I am God! (Psalm 46:10). God’s Word translation puts it this way, Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am God. On this Holy Saturday find space to listen for the voice of God. God has a message uniquely meant for you. Be quiet. God is trying to talk.
God, help me to quiet the constant demands of time; the incessant call to do, do, do, and go, go, go. The two Marys sat quietly outside the tomb, weeping and consoling one another, seeking peace. Grant me a quiet heart and focused mind. In the midst of life’s raucous noise let me hear your speaking voice. Amen.