Saturday, April 3, 2010

God rested

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
-From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday
Today we have been sitting with the death of Christ, the great, deep silence that will not be broken until tonight (not to get ahead of the story).

If I had posted on Thursday, I would have mentioned something about the New Testament reading in Hebrews 5 that says “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence” (a peculiar use of the word “heard,” I would say). I mentioned before that this seems to be Christ’s credentials as the Great High Priest. Rejoice, he tells us; we have as a mediator a man who similarly prayed seemingly unanswered prayers. What kind of a high priest is a man who begs God to let the cup pass from him but willingly drinks it anyway?

But he did drink it yesterday, and it is finished. Now, on the seventh day, God rests. At morning prayers we read from the previous chapter of Hebrews that “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” Christ has offered his prayers to let the cup pass, he has drunk from it anyway, he declared his work finished, and today he rests. This is our high priest. This is the mediator of the new covenant. This is our model of suffering.

I read yesterday in a sermon of Melito of Sardis:
It is he who endured every kind of suffering in all those who foreshadowed him. In Abel he was slain, in Isaac bound, in Jacob exiled, in Joseph sold, in Moses exposed to die. He was sacrificed in the Passover Lamb, persecuted in David, dishonored in the prophets.
Now, it turns out, he is also prefigured (or postfigured) in everyone who has or will ever offer seemingly unanswered prayers, anyone who has ever tasted suffering he longed to avoid, anyone who has ever faced the silence of God.

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest.

1 comment:

Anne said...

"Strive to enter that rest"

I think that is the hardest part of all. Resting, waiting for the unknown (even though we do know). I want to rush forward to the joy without waiting in the silent darkness. But to do that, would be to decrease the joy that is to come.