Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sermon: Holy Saturday

Sermon for April 19, 2014
Holy Saturday Service
The Rev. Vicki K. Hesse
St. Philip’s In The Hills Parish, Tucson, AZ
For online access to the readings click here.
I speak to you in the name of One God:
Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit. Amen

In John O’Donohue’s book Anam Cara,
he writes about death.

“Death is a lonely visitor.
After it visits your home,
nothing is ever the same again.
There is an empty place at the table;
there is an absence in the house.

Having someone close to you die
is an incredibly strange and desolate experience.
Something breaks within you then
that will never come together again.

Gone is the person whom you loved,
whose face and hands and body
you knew so well.
This body, for the first time,
is completely empty.

This is very frightening and strange.
After the death many questions
come into your mind concerning
where the person has gone,
what they see and feel now.

The death of a loved one is bitterly lonely.
When you really love someone,
you would be willing to die in their place.
Yet no one can take another’s place
when that time comes.
Each one of us has to go alone.

It is so strange that when someone dies,
they literally disappear.
Human experience includes
all kinds of continuity and discontinuity,
closeness and distance.

In death, experience reaches
the ultimate frontier.
The deceased literally
falls out of the visible world of form and presence.

At birth you appear out of nowhere,
at death you disappear to nowhere. . . .

The terrible moment of loneliness in grief
comes when you realize that
you will never see the deceased again.”[1]

This is the human condition.

Holy Saturday.
The day of the entombed Christ. 
The Lord’s day of rest.

On this day, nothing happens.
Movement stops.
The day is airless, still, unholy hot.
We are bone-weary sad.

On this day, we are stuck between
crucifixion Friday and Easter Sunday.

On this day, our devotion drew us here.
Our faith requires us
to be in this desolate place
with tears dried upon our faces
and witness as they take away the body of Jesus.
Carefully they remove his body from the cross.
Methodically, they wrap him,
with the spices of myrrh and aloes,
in linen cloths.
Turning him over until he is properly prepared.
They lay Jesus in the nearby tomb.
Christ has died.

Joseph turns to us and asks:
what do we need to bury today?

[1] John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, (New York, HarperCollins, 1997) p.207

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