The earth quakes before them,
the heavens tremble.
The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining. (Joel 2:10)
This is a day of desolation in a time of desolation, isolation, and multiple forms of distancing. Jesus lies in a tomb, crucified and gone. Disciples huddle in fear and grief. Suddenly, there is no future, no purpose, no hope. Significantly, we have lost touch with a vital understanding of this time.
In the ancient days of the early church, this day of darkness was even more significant than Maundy Thursday and existed on a level with Good Friday. For the first few centuries of the Christian Era, Easter was the most popular and appropriate day for baptisms. In those days, there was no infant baptism, only adult baptism. This dark, black Saturday was a significant day of preparation when those to be baptized into new life in Christ spent the day in silence, darkness, seclusion, and separation. Symbolically, they entered the tomb, died to their old lives, and emerged to share in the resurrection of Christ through baptism. This day, this time of darkness, is a liminal time – a time of passing over the threshold of suffering, pain, hopelessness and fear into a new reality of mercy, grace, forgiveness and love. At times we may feel sealed in a tomb, enveloped in darkness, with little to celebrate. But just wait. Light is coming, with new life, and new appreciation for all that God provides.
Gracious and loving God, we are living in a tomb-time of darkness, separation, and anxiety. For the moment, it feels that this may never pass, that we will never truly see the light again. Dark clouds gather, the world as we have known it quakes and trembles, and we admit a worry and fret – at times even a panic – because we simply can no longer see a vision of the future. Help us to wait, O Lord. Help us to be patient. Help us to trust and grant us the faith that will sustain us through the dark times until the day we emerge fully into your light. We ask this humbly in the name of the crucified Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.