HOLY SATURDAY / EASTER VIGIL
In the beginning . . .
It is the day after Jesus’ crucifixion. His body lies in the tomb, hastily wrapped in a linen cloth. A proper burial can wait until after the Sabbath. For now, a borrowed grave near the site of his crucifixion will have to do.
Yesterday had been terrifying. A solar eclipse darkened the land (Luke 23:44-45). An earthquake split rocks and opened up tombs. Some say it was the earthquake that caused the veil in the Temple to tear in two. People even reported seeing long-dead heroes of the faith (Matthew 27:51-53).
That was yesterday. Today Jerusalem is shrouded in an unnatural quiet. People pick their way among shattered rocks. Temple priests ponder how to repair the veil. The landscape around Golgotha looks like a formless void similar to the one at the very beginning. As he died, Jesus had said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). “Maybe this is the end,” people say. “Maybe these are signs that the world is descending into chaos.”
No. This is just the birth pangs of a new creation. The old order, bound by sin and death, had tried to destroy Jesus, but it had failed. Jesus destroyed it when he died. Now a new order, marked by grace and the promise of eternal life, is coming forth out of the rubble of the old.
“In the beginning,” God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). In this new order, heaven will come down to earth. In the beginning, God breathed life into a man (2:7). In this new order, he will breathe his Holy Spirit into all people (John 20:22). In the beginning, God warned man against eating from the wrong tree (Genesis 2:16-17). In this new order, he will feed everyone with his own Body and Blood (John 6:51, 53).
But that’s for tomorrow. Today we look at the landscape of our own lives—lives wounded by sin but suffused with hope. As we keep vigil tonight, we will witness the new creation breaking forth.
“Thank you, Jesus, for renewing all creation!”
Psalm 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12-14, 24, 35
WORD AMONG US