In Palestine, it must have looked like the end
Published 1:29 am Saturday, April 15, 2017
By CINDY HOWARD
It is the day before Easter. All around us, the egg hunts have begun, Easter decorations have been up for weeks, and the unsold chocolate bunnies will be on the sale rack soon. For some people, Easter is almost over. All that remains is church, followed by a big dinner, tomorrow.
It is the day before Easter. It is the day when more than 2000 years ago, the dead, tortured, mutilated body of Jesus lay in a borrowed tomb. It is the day after the power of the Roman Empire hung Jesus on a cross – a form of capital punishment reserved for people like runaway slaves and rebel insurgents who attempted to disturb the “Peace of Rome.” Death on a cross was not only a punishment, but a very public warning to others who might consider going up against the might of Rome. Who would want to risk a death like that?
On that Saturday in Palestine so long ago, it must have looked like the end to those who had followed this itinerant preacher, teacher, and miracle worked from Nazareth. It must have looked like Rome had won, like the proclamation of a new kind of kingdom – God’s Kingdom – had been silenced, like might really does win.
On that Saturday, the mourners had gone home. Hopes were shattered; emotions were raw. Jesus’ disciples were fearful that they, too, would be arrested to face the same fate. I am guessing that for those who had believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah the day felt still and quiet, that kind of eerie silent stillness that comes with great disappointment, grief, and fear of what is to come.
It can be easy for us to skip right over this day and to begin our celebrations now, because we know what will happen tomorrow. It can be easy for us to skip right over this day and to begin our celebrations now, because let’s face it most of us like celebrations way more than we like eerie silent stillness.
But, let me make a suggestion. Let’s take a moment or two today to make our hearts and minds still and quiet, to forget that we know the end of the story, and to imagine what this day must have felt like on that Saturday in Palestine so long ago.
Perhaps we can take a moment to trust that in the still, quiet times God may still be at work.
-The Rev. Cindy Howard is the rector at Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church.