Tonight I am off to a murder mystery evening. I have never been to one before but I know that someone will be killed, yet at the end of the evening they will be back to take their bow- it is make believe, the death will not really happen and we will all be just acting out a story for a purpose. Today is Holy Saturday-Christ is dead in the tomb, the disciples are bereft, and the world is ignorant of hope. We sit here over 2,000 years later and we know how the story ends and, because we do, there is a real danger that we fail to forget the significance of the day in between – the time he was dead and all hope was dead, the mission was over. To the people and the disciples and to the religious leaders of the day Jesus had failed to bring in the new kingdom he talked about and was no different to any other holy man or prophet that had been before. As Nick Fawcett’s entry for Easter Eve in his book Daily Prayer says; ” Jesus was dead…He was laid limp and lifeless in a tomb, and a stone rolled against the entrance. Humanly speaking it was over, the end of a wonderful ministry and an unforgettable man. He had shared our life; he had shared our death. If the story was to continue, it was out of human hands- it was down to God.”
The mystery of what Christ achieved in death I will leave to the theologians, but Tarjei Park suggested in his reflection of the crucifixion; “He was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell. What was Jesus doing in hell? He was looking for his friend Judas Iscariot. Judas had done something so wrong he could not forgive himself, and feeling incapable of being forgiven, in bitter tears of regret, he hanged himself. Well, Jesus went looking for him, and in hell he found him. He walked over to him and kissed him, and took his hand. Miracles occur in hell.”
Inscribed on a cellar wall in Cologne where some Jews has hidden for the entire duration of the Second World War were these lines:
I believe in the sun, even when it doesn’t shine. I believe in love, even when I don’t feel it. I believe in God, even when He is silent.
On that first Easter eve ,God fell very silent and many wondered if they would ever here from him again. No word, no sign, no hope.