Reformation Lutheran Church A Congregation of the ELCA

Holy Saturday, March 26 Read Revelation 21:1-8

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:3-5

A Promise … But Not Yet

“Dad, are we there yet? How long is it going to be? When are we gonna get there?” Years ago, my 8-year-old son would launch these questions at me from the back seat like a salvo of spitballs. The first time it happened, I was about to yell something to shut down the barrage when I realized I had pelted my father with the exact same questions ever so many years before. I settled for “Twenty minutes. We’ll be there in 20 minutes.” This seemed to work, whether we had just started out on a daylong drive or were, in fact, only 20 minutes away.

Sometimes all you have to hang onto is a promise. When the Revelation came to John on the island of Patmos, it came as a vision of the future, unfulfilled in the present. Indeed, “the home of God is among mortals,” but God seems not to be at home. We get an idea of what the homecoming will be like: God will dwell with God’s people; God will wipe away their tears; death will cease to exist; the things of human pain will vanish.

But not yet. Sometimes all you have to hang onto is a promise. It is significant that the wondrous assurances of the Old Testament date to the Exile, with God’s people uprooted, far from their beloved homeland. It was a time, scholar Walter Brueggemann says, of “dread absence” of a sense of the presence of God.

Holy Saturday can feel like that – a time of dread absence.

Today there’s no evidence, no proof, no data to point to. Today there’s only a yawning abyss of nothingness. We saw what happened yesterday, watched the stone roll hard in front of the tomb. And now, dread absence. We feel rootless, our Lord away from us. We feel we are on our own in a land that does not love us. We sit in quiet with our aloneness. And we come to experience and understand the depth of our dependence, our need.

Today is not a day for happy words, but it also is not a day for terror. This day simply strips away our easy comforts and assertions of well-being and leaves us bare in the face of the promise: “See, I am making all things new.” In fact, enduring the dread absence of Holy Saturday is essential to the way God is making all things new – including you.

Sometimes all you have to hang onto is a promise.

Roger Gustafson, Bishop
Central States Synod, ELCA

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