Good Friday. Holy Saturday. Resurrection Sunday. This sacred seventh day, this barren Sabbath, suspends us between Jesus’ cry of dereliction on Friday afternoon—“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”—and the angels’ astonishing announcement at dawn on Sunday —“He is not here; he is risen.” We’re pushed by anguish and pulled by alleluia; dashed by despair and drawn by hope; lacerated by fear and lured by love.

To the limited extent we can be, we are with Jesus in the uneasy and uncertain quiet of the sealed tomb, the still and stagnant air of near-nothingness. 

In and with Jesus, God knelt as a slave and God experienced death. And, on Saturday, God fell silent. No more cries of agony from the cross, but not yet any shouts of “alleluia.” Just silence, sheer silence.

By means of the cross, the agony, fear, abandonment and despair of Jesus and of the whole world became forever a part of God’s life. Everything that threatens, demeans, diminishes, and distorts life has been taken up into the great heart of God. God suffers these things with us and for us.  They do not happen outside of God and only to Jesus or to us. Suffering and death are part of the life of God.

God’s silence is part of God’s response to that pain, but silence is not the same as absence.

Words break under the pressure—the gruesome and glorious weight—of what God underwent through the cross and of the salvation which God gave in response to it. I think of it this way: from the vantage point of Easter, we can trust that God used Saturday to wrestle with evil and redeem it, to resolve guilt and shame into mercy and grace, to remove death’s sting, and to drain fear of its venom. 

What God did on that Saturday is now bound forever to Easter Sunday. Each day, God is at work to absorb and transform everything deadly, even death itself. And, God rises each day, as on Easter, to give us life, to renew our faith, to restore our hope, and to recreate our love.