“A mortal, born of woman, few of days and full of trouble, comes up like a flower and withers, flees like a shadow and does not last. Do you fix your eyes on such a one? Do you bring me into judgment with you?” (Job 14:1-3)
It is fitting that this day of mourning we are first presented with Job. Job, who at the beginning of his story has all the things a man can want, and a good relationship to/with God. And suddenly it is all gone.
“Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one can. Since their days are determined, and the number of their months is known to you, and you have appointed the bounds that they cannot pass, look away from them, and desist, that they may enjoy, like laborers, their days.” (Verses 4 – 6)
Although on the first day of Sabbath after Jesus’ death there was little to hope for, from that day forward, there is hope.
“For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.
Though its root grows old in the earth, and its stump dies in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth branches like a young plant.” (Verses 7 to 9)
The friends and family of Jesus had little hope, because still they thought in human terms. And Job was so “human” in his view of life. It took an encounter with God to break him free from that thinking.
“But mortals die, and are laid low; humans expire, and where are they? As waters fail from a lake, and a river wastes away and dries up, so mortals lie down and do not rise again; until the heavens are no more, they will not awake or be roused out of their sleep. Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath is past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If mortals die, will they live again? All the days of my service I would wait until my release should come.” (Verses 10 – 14)
Normally on the day between Good Friday and Easter, I do not post anything. But as I have said before, this year I want to give you, beloved reader, the full measure of what the Revised Common Lectionary has to offer. Not only are these (which I am posting today) scripture passages used, but other alternate ones as well. And for the Easter vigil that lasts until the morning of Easter there are countless other passages as well. I will not post those, nor make a list. The curious can seek those out for them selves. My focus for today is looking for and waiting for the Risen Lord.
“In you, O LORD, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me.
Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me. You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.” ( Psalm 31:1-4)
And why is it, one might ask, that I wait the Risen Lord? Let scripture answer for me.
“My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.” (Verses 15 to 16)
It is not often that the RCL uses Epistle Passages other than the ones that are attributed to Paul. But this day a different voice is heard. While it may not have been written by Simon Peter who came clumsily to God, stumbling over his humanness. But for me, it is because his humanness sometimes got in the way that appreciate him so much.
“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme. But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does. The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.” ( 1 Peter 4:1-8)
From the time Jesus was laid to rest in the tomb, at the beginning hours of the Jewish Sabbath, to the early morning hours after the Jewish Sabbath, the world waited. Waited at that time for they knew not what. Perhaps they did not even know they waited. Perhaps they thought all that Jesus had was a humanness, and like Job, thought that was all and once gone – all that was the person was gone. Can you imagine, beloved reader, thinking that the man you thought was your teacher and best friend was gone and gone forever? I cannot imagine such grief.
“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate
and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.”
So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.” ( Matthew 27:57-66)
At that is where things stood. Jesus was dead and gone. There was nothing left to do. Jewish tradition stated and demanded that nothing be done on the 7th day. And nothing happened at Jesus’ tomb except that there was guards insuring that nothing happened. And all things waited.
Throughout this day, do you know what you are waiting for?