Today is the day between. Yesterday was Good Friday, tomorrow is Easter, and we are in the limbo between death and new life.
Last night we held a Good Friday service at our house. We read scripture together, shared the Eucharist, and sat in silence together. Dave encouraged us to enter the darkness of Good Friday.
Afterwards, Stephanie and I sat on our porch and talked over a cup of tea by candlelight. Stephanie doesn’t usually come to our church – she lives across town – but she was here last night because she locked herself out of her house yesterday and her husband, Billy, is out of town for the night. She called me after work for an impromptu sleepover. I half-heartedly feigned sympathy about her being locked out of her home, but I was glad: for the time with her, and for the ability to open my home to her in a way that she’s opened hers to me many times. Hers is the home I go to when I need a place to be that’s not my own. Lately, that has been for quarterly retreats. When I was teaching, I went to her house on the days we had evening school commitments. The afternoons of Back to School Night and Open House would find us sprawled out on opposite couches, napping and reading and sipping smoothies, regenerating a bit before the crazy night.
Last night we sat on the porch and talked by candlelight, and we asked each other questions. What does it mean to enter the darkness of Good Friday when we know that Easter is coming? What does it mean to enter the anguish and pain of the dying, the forsaken son, and the forsaking parent? We admitted our growing comfort with the story of God, but our greater confusion about what exactly the story of Jesus means. Why does life require death? Does it really have to be this way? What does atonement even mean? Dave sat on the porch railing, chatting with us a while. He said that, in part at least, the cross is God demonstrating complete love and forgiveness in the midst of our most broken, sinful, murderous act – the torture and execution of an innocent. That much makes sense to me today.
We went to bed, and I dreamed of the in between. I dreamed of torture – I don’t know who or how or why but I know that somehow it was Christ. And I dreamed of travel: Everett on my back in the Ergo, missing our flight, having to drive across town to an intake center to wait in lines and try to rebook a flight home.
We exist in the in between - that is how we enter the darkness of Good Friday. We live the pain and the anguish and the heartache that are so much of what it means to be human. We are caught: by faith we are beyond death, yet we still await new life. We are the already-not-yet-Kingdom of God. Forever we are trying to find our way back home.
On this Great Sabbath, we rest in our in-betweenness. It is uncomfortable, even tragic. Our world and often our lives are full of suffering, and we must dwell in that, knowing that Easter is coming.
We have a God who was poured out like water, who suffered through birth and life and death and was laid in the dust. Our God knows what it is to forsake and what it is to be forsaken. God entered the in between for us.
Let us know today that though there is heartache and suffering and death, without a doubt, tomorrow comes.