In March we continue the journey through Lent to Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter. The stories we tell at this time of year are vivid and full of powerful emotions. I’m not quite sure whether it is one of the blessings or one of the curses of faith that we live with the emotions of the moment but we also see the stories of faith with the insight of hindsight. We know what comes on Easter Day so some of the terror and loss of Good Friday is lost on us.
After Jesus’ death his followers were scattered, Judas racked with the shame of betrayal, Peter with the guilt of denial, and the others just lost in grief and fear. Eventually they come together in a private room, not in anticipation but with the stunned disbelief of those whose world has just fallen apart.
The day between Good Friday and Easter Day is known as Holy Saturday. For the first disciples it was not a day of waiting for resurrection. It was a day of wondering ‘What now?’ Later tradition imagined Jesus descending to hell on that day and bringing salvation to the righteous who had died since the beginning of the world but before the time of Jesus.
But for those first followers this was not a time of hopeful waiting sandwiched between crucifixion and resurrection, death and life. For those disciples, who had to live in the emotion of the moment and did not have the benefit of hindsight, this would have been a time of desolation, of total loss.
I hope that you are by now aware that there will be an exhibition of sculptures in the church in March with the title ‘Good Grief’. This exhibition provides an opportunity not only to see some powerful art but also to reflect on the emotions that people experience around times of grief and loss – which might be experienced in many situations, not just following a death.
Within the programme of events around the exhibition there will be a special service on the Holy Saturday for those who have experienced grief and loss. I am calling the service ‘Thanks for the memory’. Hopefully there will be memories to give thanks for but it is important also to recognise that for some the dominant emotion are not always thankfulness. Anger, bitterness and pain are part of the emotions of the moment that we often cannot see beyond.
Without wishing to deny the reality of these emotions it is hoped that the exhibition and the ‘Thanks for the Memories’ service will help us understand that, as in the Easter story, the desolation of death and loss are not the end of the story; God’s love can lead us to a place of healing and peace.
This article was first published in the March 2016 issue of Look-In, our monthly church magazine. To download the full issue, please click here: Look-In Mar 2016