For Christians around the world today is Holy Saturday – the day before Easter. For Jesus’ disciples and followers it was the day after the crucifixion of their Lord. It was a day of great uncertainty, confusion, and fear. For Jesus it was the day when he lied dead in a dark tomb.
Whether you are a believer of not, today – even as a metaphor – marks the apex of transition. Whether from dark to light, winter to spring, or simply a turning point in one’s life, it is the time when whatever it is that needed to be dealt with has been dealt with. It’s over. For Christians, the sin that separates us from God was dealt with in the death of Christ and hope in the new covenant with God is about to burst through the tombstone. For nonbelievers and believers alike, this could also represent itself as the decision to go sober, begin a new career, forgive an enemy, or start a family. Today is when the work of new life begins because death is over.
After we looked upward to gain a sense of what it was going to take to achieve our goal, we must now look inward. We are in the process now. It’s taken over our lives. It is our life. It is our day in the tomb. The transition from death to life is here.
The three-day plan from Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday is perhaps uniquely suited for the son of God. For we mere mortals, however, this time of transition may take months or even years. Summiting our greatest challenges takes deep introspection and work. It requires penetrating our most inner thoughts and assumptions about the world and our place in it. The death of old ways that hold us hostage to our old selves is a bloody mess and it isn’t for the faint of heart. Going inward is a process of reflection that pulls out our very heart and forces us to examine it. If we are honest with ourselves, this ultimately means admitting that we have selfish hearts of stone. We must now choose to die to self in order to live anew.
Doing away with our old selves leads to living a life of resurrection – a life of selflessness, forgiveness, submission to others and to God, humility, and compassion. We must replace our hearts with the heart of God.
Like the disciples on the eve of the first Easter, we are in a place of unknowing. Like them, we ask, “this can’t be it?” They didn’t know the work that was being done inside that tomb. We will only ever know what new life looks like if we are willing to be in that tomb.
The vast chasm between old and new is the work of going inward. The new life to come, however, is a whole different adventure and it’s all about going outward. As Jesus said when he appears to his disciples after rising from the dead, “Peace be with you. As the father sent me, I am sending you.” He then instructs them to forgive.
The new life is one marked by being in right relationship with the world, one another, ourselves, and God. With this life anything is possible. Happy Easter.