Today is Christ's great Sabbath. Jesus rests from his labors. His work is done; nothing more is needed. The stone is rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb, and Jesus -- dear, dead Jesus -- is safely laid away in death and darkness.
After yesterday's two services ... three hours of meditations on the Way of the Cross from noon to 3 p.m., then the Prayer Book Good Friday liturgy last night ... I asked my husband as we walked home from church under the Paschal moon:
"Well, do you think we've got him locked up for good in that tomb this time?"
As much as we love the pomp and pageantry of Easter, the promise of hope and new life, most of us are very uncomfortable with the idea of resurrection, that illogical, unscientific, irrational concept. We would rather imagine Jesus at rest, at peace, a good man unfairly killed, like Martin Luther King or Abraham Lincoln or Gandhi. The tomb is actually a comfortable place for most of us to leave Jesus.
So we can rest this day along with Jesus. Today we don't have to ponder any deep theological concepts, like how the death of Jesus saves us from Sin, or was the resurrection real or just a mass hallucination, or what all of this will mean to us come Monday morning. We can just rest, with Jesus safely tucked away where he can't trouble us or disturb us.
But starting tonight, the rest is over, the comfort ends. Tonight we light a fire in the darkness. Tonight we tell those ancient stories of our creation, our fall, our deliverance, our hope. Tonight we trust the future enough to baptize a child into it. Tonight we burn candles, shout songs of praise and allow our complacency to be uprooted once more, as the stone rolls away from the door and Jesus busts out to rock our world again and again and again.
The Great Vigil, with Holy Baptism and the First Eucharist of Easter begins at 8 p.m. today.