Summary: A service for Holy Saturday (easter weekend), looking a despair and Psalm 88 as Peter might have said it following his betrayal.
Holy Saturday – March 30, 2002
Worship Set #1:
• Welcome. Announcements (?). Offering (is this appropriate? Necessary for SDC and regular giving…)
• Place this service in the order of events of the Easter weekend.
• In some churches where there are services of some type every day, they observe this day by canceling those services! We have a unique opportunity tonight to try to imagine, to try to get a glimpse, of what Jesus’ disciples might have felt on this “in-between time,” the time before Jesus rose from the dead. We aren’t doing this to be morbid or depressing – not at all! In fact the opposite is true – we feel that in order to really celebrate Christ’s victory over death, in order to really understand the joy of the resurrection, we need to meditate on all the events of this weekend. We need to come to the cross, as we did yesterday, and see our Savior who died there for us. And we need to remember that the resurrection didn’t happen instantaneously – there was a space of time, when Jesus’ disciples were still around, no doubt confused, distraught, overwhelmed, not knowing what to think. And that is the moment we want to pause it tonight.
• Describe service – outline
Worship Set #2:
Scripture: Matt. 27:62-66
Reflection: “Have you ever had a dream?”
Have you ever had a dream? Something you worked for, strived for, longed for, sacrificed for? Have you ever lost that? Had it slip away, get crushed, evaporate in front of you? Have you ever found yourself in a place where all you felt was disappointment, confusion, even anger?
The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about the disciples between the cross and the resurrection. We don’t know where they were that Sabbath day, what they did or what they thought. We can only imagine. We know they were not anticipating a resurrection – they were surprised by the empty tomb, puzzled, in fact even as they looked in on the empty tomb John records, “They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” (Jn 20:9).
What I found fascinating in Matthew’s Gospel is that while the disciples hadn’t caught the message of Jesus rising again from the dead, the chief priests and the Pharisees hadn’t missed it! They went running back to Pilate, asking to post a guard and make the tomb secure lest the disciples steal the body and claim some crazy resurrection.
We do know the disciples had a dream. They had seen Jesus do miraculous things, had walked with Him triumphantly towards Jerusalem shouting praise to God. Yet now He was dead. There hope was dashed. The enemies had won, Jesus was dead and so was the movement. They’d seen this kind of thing before. It always seemed like just when God started doing something, something else interfered and destroyed the momentum.
Scripture doesn’t fill in the rest of the details – we have to look to our imaginations for that. Let me share with you Walter Wangerin’s re-creation of those moments of despair, out of his imagination. (read section)
Worship Set #3:
Scripture: Psalm 88
Reflection on Psalm 88:
Last September I came to the church on a Tuesday morning. I’d never been here on a Tuesday morning. But Thomas and I were out for a drive and I thought I’d pop by just quickly and say hi to our Tuesday morning Bible study. As I walked in, our secretary Ellen mentioned that there was a man in the sanctuary. He’d arrived quite upset and had asked her if it would be ok if he just sat and prayed in our sanctuary.
I walked in, and there he sat, in the back pew over there. He was more than upset – he was distraught. He was a big guy, looked quite strong, in his 50s. He had his Bible open, reading Ps. 88. He shared his story with me – life had been cruel. Harsh. He recognized some places where he could have made different choices, but much of it was beyond his control. He’d been injured on the job, which took away his ability to work. Some mistakes were made in his treatment and compensation. I cried with him as he described losing everything, his savings, then his house, then his vehicle, coming to the point of watching his wife put water on her cereal because there was no money for milk. That day his anger had boiled over, he’d come to the end, and in his frustration he had pushed his wife – the love of his life – and she had fallen on the ground. At that moment he was broken – she leapt right up and wrapped her arms around him crying “its okay, its okay, that’s not you, that’s not you,” but for him it wasn’t okay. He left, came to the house of God. And found the expression of his heart in Psalm 88.