The Easter Vigil
So now we wait. We watch. We pray.
Unlike the first disciples, we believe something wonderful is happening, that time itself is reshaping around a corpse in a rock-hewn tomb. The sorrow and grief we are called to remember on Good Friday is replaced by a Holy watchfulness, a prayer-filled anticipation for what we shall proclaim tomorrow.
Yet, this watch is also one performed in awareness that it is done in the midst of a darkness so vast, it recalls the original chaos before creation. We believers are few in the face of those who would celebrate the demise of our hope and salvation, announcing the false freedom from Divine discipline and justice. Our silent prayers screech above the din of celebration at the death of one man.
How often have any of us read, after the execution of a criminal, that the person deserved that death? How often do we read words such as, “Good!”, “One less scumbag,” and other sentiments? We have yet to learn one of the lessons of the Passion – that the death of anyone, no matter how much how many of us may believe it necessary and just, is not a thing to celebrate. We should pass over such a death in silent waiting, praying for the time when life will over come death, even death on a state-owned table by state-controlled chemicals.
Our Easter Vigil, a time of praying in silent waiting for the coming New Creation, should include prayers for our world that still believes death is a solution to a problem we create. As we sit, or kneel, or stand, or however we prostrate ourselves before God on this day, we should remember all those the world deems unworthy of life, for whatever crime. We should carry the name of an executed convict with us, and remember that he or she, too, faced the same fear, the same emptiness, the same descending darkness that Jesus faced on Good Friday. We should life up that name, in hopes that God’s grace is greater even than our justice, and certainly greater than that person’s crime.
We are in a time of waiting, of prayer, and of hope. We wait for the word from the women who went to the tomb early in the morning. We pray that God’s will, the New Creation, will begin as the sun rises on the First Day. And we hope that life, God’s life in the Spirit, is stronger than death, even death for the sins of the whole world. We wait. We pray. We hope.
So, Holy Saturday is, in many ways, a singular moment that is like much the rest of our Christian living – waiting, praying, and hoping.