Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

Revisited: Holy Saturday — how Jesus spent his day off

April 23, 2011

During Holy Week, much is made of the days leading up to Easter. First was Maundy Thursday, the day when Jesus celebrated the Last Supper, then was ratted out by Judas at the after-party. Yesterday was Good Friday, though Christ Himself would probably choose a different adjective than “good,” since it marks the day He was crucified (for example, “Bad Friday” or “Painful Friday” both seem more accurate). Sunday is Easter itself, the day Jesus rose from the dead and was presented with a beautiful ham.  

But today, sometimes referred to as “Holy Saturday” or “Silent Saturday” on the liturgical calendar, plays a much smaller role in Resurrection Weekend. There are no special church services, no ceremonial waving of palms or schlepping of crosses. It’s just a plain old Saturday, plenty good enough for the rest of us to spend in relaxation, and not that big a deal to those who celebrate the life, death and rebirth of our Lord and Savior.  

Little is known of how Jesus Himself spent that solemn day almost two millennia ago. It’s generally thought that He mostly just lay around, recovering from one of the worst weeks anyone ever suffered, including that one you had in February where not one, not two, but three PowerPoint presentations were due on the boss’s desk by close of business Friday. Traditionally, it’s believed that Christ’s actual reanimation took place Sunday morning shortly before the angels rolled the stone away from the grave. It’s entirely possible, however, that it occurred much earlier, and that Jesus had a whole day to kill on Saturday while waiting for the dramatic Easter morning reveal.  

Think about it: if you just moved into a new place, you’d be using your first day off to spruce it up bit, do some cleaning and some chores, and find a little time to absorb the ambience of what has become your home. Maybe the tomb had a little-used back door that allowed Jesus to freely come and go for a day before inviting his friends over to the house-warming bash on Sunday.  

Some historians are now ready to speculate how the founder of the world’s one true religion spent his Holy Saturday:  

9 a.m. — Wakes up late, hoping that a good night’s sleep will ease the pain of one of the worst methods of execution known to mankind.  

9:15 a.m. — Slips out to nearby Panera for coffee and a cinnamon crunch bagel. Hasn’t unpacked His laptop yet so He has to get His news the old-fashioned way, by picking up a newspaper (lead story: “Son of God Executed”; second lead: “Idol Castoff is Gay”). Spends a leisurely hour sipping free refills of the dark roast blend, and wondering why they gave Him a fork with His bagel.  

10:15 a.m. — Swings by Home Depot to pick up some grass seed and fertilizer for a little lawn work He wants to do later in the afternoon.  

10:30 a.m. — After returning to the crypt, Christ starts tackling the “honey-do” list of chores around the house. Since He’s not married, the existence of the list is itself something of a miracle, and the scrap of paper is now enshrined at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It’s believed the hand of the Lord Himself crossed off “fix hinge on sunroom door,” “replace porch light” and “heal dishwasher.” One chore is sadly left unmarked: “Make sure followers don’t kill others in My name.”  

12:15 p.m. — Grabs a quick lunch at Arby’s drive-thru and says “hi” to Dad who’s working there at His part-time retirement job. Orders the junior roast beef sandwich from dollar-menu but has to get the barbecue sauce because He gets embarrassed asking for His real favorite, the “horsey sauce.”  

1 p.m. — Back at home, which He now thinks of by the nickname “The Sepulcher” or maybe “The Sep,” it’s time to pay a few bills. Jesus has refrained from using online banking and still writes checks and drops them in the mail. Just as He wanted to mingle with the lepers and the prostitutes, He also likes to keep a personal touch in dealing with the bankers and the utility company.  

1:30 p.m. — Lies down for a quick nap but wakes up after only half an hour when His cat tries to sleep on His chest.  

2 p.m. — Walks over to the Golgotha Driving Range to hit a bucket of balls. Considers trying to get in a quick nine but remembers He’s got to get that grass seed down before it germinates in His shed.  

2:45 p.m. — Begins yard work but finds it tough going in the sandy soil of the Negev Desert. Manages to scrape clear a small patch and get it sufficiently watered to possibly grow a little fescue, though He’s concerned the spot He’s picked won’t get enough sun in the shade of an olive tree. After sweating away for almost two hours, finally gives in and waves His mighty hand across the land, miraculously creating a lush garden complete with perennials, which shouldn’t take as much work as those damn annuals He had back in Nazareth.  

5 p.m. — Time to fire up the grill for some hamburgers and corn on the cob. He’s dying for a Yeungling but knows, according to the laws of the scripture, that He must drink wine instead, though even the prophets would have to admit that it’s not as refreshing as a cold beer.  

6:30 p.m. — Resists the “great temptation of Christ” — to turn in early — and decides instead to catch a movie over in the Gethsemane Mall. Though He’s already seen it four times, Jesus again chooses to watch “Avatar,” because James Cameron reminds Him so much of Himself, and because He thinks He looks cool in 3-D glasses.  

9:15 p.m. — Makes a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up some Peeps for the nephews He suspects will be dropping by tomorrow. Ends up filling a whole shopping cart full of chocolate rabbits, robin’s eggs, jelly beans and other junk, most of which He proceeds to eat while watching Lawrence Welk reruns on PBS.  

10:45 p.m. — Falls asleep on couch even though sugar rush haunts His dreams all night, and gives him the wacky idea of ascending into Heaven before a gathering of believers. Thinks He might just be able to pull it off if He can spend the next 40 days being nice to that friend who owns a jet-pack.  

I pray it doesn’t rain before I can get that grass seed down

Holy Saturday: How will Jesus spend His day off?

April 2, 2010

During Holy Week, much is made of the days leading up to Easter. Yesterday was Maundy Thursday, the day when Jesus celebrated the Last Supper, then was ratted out by Judas at the after-party. Today is Good Friday, though Christ Himself would probably choose a different adjective than “good,” since it marks the day He was crucified (for example, Bad Friday or Painful Friday both seem more accurate). Sunday is Easter itself, the day Jesus rose from the dead and was presented with a beautiful ham.  

But tomorrow, sometimes referred to as “Holy Saturday” or “Silent Saturday” on the liturgical calendar, plays a much smaller role in Resurrection Weekend. There are no special church services, no ceremonial waving of palms or schlepping of crosses. It’s just a plain old Saturday, plenty good enough for the rest of us to spend in relaxation, and not that big a deal to those who celebrate the life, death and rebirth of our Lord and Savior.  

Little is known of how Jesus Himself spent that solemn day almost two millennia ago. It’s generally thought that He mostly just lay around, recovering from one of the worst weeks anyone ever suffered, including that one you had in February where not one, not two, but three PowerPoint presentations were due on the boss’s desk by close of business Friday. Traditionally, it’s believed that Christ’s actual reanimation took place Sunday morning shortly before the angels rolled the stone away from the grave. It’s entirely possible, however, that it occurred much earlier, and that Jesus had a whole day to kill on Saturday while waiting for the dramatic Easter morning reveal.  

Think about it: if you just moved into a new place, you’d be using your first day off to spruce it up bit, do some cleaning and some chores, and find a little time to absorb the ambience of what has become your home. Maybe the tomb had a little-used back door that allowed Jesus to freely come and go for a day before inviting his friends over to the house-warming bash on Sunday.  

Some historians are now ready to speculate how the founder of the world’s one true religion spent his Holy Saturday:  

9 a.m. — Wakes up late, hoping that a good night’s sleep will ease the pain of one of the worst methods of execution known to mankind.  

9:15 a.m. — Slips out to nearby Panera for coffee and a cinnamon crunch bagel. Hasn’t unpacked His laptop yet so He has to get His news the old-fashioned way, by picking up a newspaper (lead story: “Son of God Executed”; second lead: “Idol Castoff is Gay”). Spends a leisurely hour sipping free refills of the dark roast blend, and wondering why they gave Him a fork with His bagel.  

10:15 a.m. — Swings by Home Depot to pick up some grass seed and fertilizer for a little lawn work He wants to do later in the afternoon.  

10:30 a.m. — After returning to the crypt, Christ starts tackling the “honey-do” list of chores around the house. Since He’s not married, the existence of the list is itself something of a miracle, and the scrap of paper is now enshrined at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It’s believed the hand of the Lord Himself crossed off “fix hinge on sunroom door,” “replace porch light” and “heal dishwasher.” One chore is sadly left unmarked: “Make sure followers don’t kill others in My name.”  

12:15 p.m. — Grabs a quick lunch at Arby’s drive-thru and says “hi” to Dad who’s working there at His part-time retirement job. Orders the junior roast beef sandwich from dollar-menu but has to get the barbecue sauce because He gets embarrassed asking for His real favorite, the “horsey sauce.”  

1 p.m. — Back at home, which He now thinks of by the nickname “The Sepulcher” or maybe “The Sep,” it’s time to pay a few bills. Jesus has refrained from using online banking and still writes checks and drops them in the mail. Just as He wanted to mingle with the lepers and the prostitutes, He also likes to keep a personal touch in dealing with the bankers and the utility company.  

1:30 p.m. — Lies down for a quick nap but wakes up after only half an hour when His cat tries to sleep on His chest.  

2 p.m. — Walks over to the Golgotha Driving Range to hit a bucket of balls. Considers trying to get in a quick nine but remembers He’s got to get that grass seed down before it germinates in His shed.  

2:45 p.m. — Begins yard work but finds it tough going in the sandy soil of the Negev Desert. Manages to scrape clear a small patch and get it sufficiently watered to possibly grow a little fescue, though He’s concerned the spot He’s picked won’t get enough sun in the shade of an olive tree. After sweating away for almost two hours, finally gives in and waves His mighty hand across the land, miraculously creating a lush garden complete with perennials, which shouldn’t take as much work as those damn annuals He had back in Nazareth.  

5 p.m. — Time to fire up the grill for some hamburgers and corn on the cob. He’s dying for a Yeungling but knows, according to the laws of the scripture, that He must drink wine instead, though even the prophets would have to admit that it’s not as refreshing as a cold beer.  

6:30 p.m. — Resists the “great temptation of Christ” — to turn in early — and decides instead to catch a movie over in the Gethsemane Mall. Though He’s already seen it four times, Jesus again chooses to watch “Avatar,” because James Cameron reminds Him so much of Himself, and because He thinks He looks cool in 3-D glasses.  

9:15 p.m. — Makes a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up some Peeps for the nephews He suspects will be dropping by tomorrow. Ends up filling a whole shopping cart full of chocolate rabbits, robin’s eggs, jelly beans and other junk, most of which He proceeds to eat while watching Lawrence Welk reruns on PBS.  

10:45 p.m. — Falls asleep on couch even though sugar rush haunts His dreams all night, and gives him the wacky idea of ascending into Heaven before a gathering of believers. Thinks He might just be able to pull it off if He can spend the next 40 days being nice to that friend who owns a jet-pack.  

I pray it doesn't rain before I can get that grass seed down

It seemed like only yesterday…

April 13, 2009

FRIEND: Jay, are you in there?

JAY: Mmmph. Go away.

FRIEND: C’mon, man. You gotta get up. Let me in, dude.

JAY: Hang on, hang on. I’m comin’.

FRIEND: What are you doing, man? Why are you still in bed? Aren’t you supposed to start your new job today?

JAY: I guess I slept through my alarm. Man, I feel awful. This is Saturday, right?

FRIEND: No, this is Sunday. Dude, did you sleep all day yesterday?

JAY: I guess I did. Last thing I remember it was Friday night. Man, it was a rough week. I can’t believe I slept almost the entire weekend.

FRIEND: Well let me at least help you get ready. I’ll put on some coffee while you start getting dressed. You can still make it in time if you hurry. Jeez, what is that smell? It’s like somebody died in here.

JAY: Sorry, I guess I let the place go a little. Haven’t had much chance to clean with all that was going on last week.

FRIEND: You can’t screw up this new gig, you know? This is the big promotion you worked so hard for. The job is a breeze and the benefits are fabulous. You’ve already done all the hard stuff to get there … you can’t blow it now.

JAY: I know, I know. You’re right. Thanks for helping, man. Let me grab my shirt. Ow! Oh, man, what did I do Friday night? My shoulders are killing me. I think one might be dislocated.

FRIEND: I didn’t stay as late as you did. You were just hanging out when I left. I don’t know what happened after that, but you look to me like you’ve been through Hell and back.

JAY: I gotta tell you, it’s all a haze to me. I barely remember anything about Friday at all. Seems I was being chased by some Italian guys – maybe Mafia – and the next thing I knew I was up in front of this big crowd, and I was supposed to give some kind of presentation but I was unprepared.

FRIEND: Were you wearing your underwear?

JAY: Yes, I was! How did you know?

FRIEND: Typical anxiety dream. You’re just worried about this job.

JAY: I don’t know – it seemed pretty real, but maybe not.

FRIEND: Last time we really talked was on Thursday, at that big dinner we had with all the guys. I wonder if you got some kind of food poisoning. Did you feel OK after that?

JAY: You know, I do remember being a little queasy. I wonder if we got some bad fish or something. But everybody else seemed alright, didn’t they?

FRIEND: From what I could tell they did. That jackass Jude cut out early and he did look a little shaken as he left, but he wasn’t green or anything like that. You left early too, right?

JAY: Yeah, I remember thinking I needed to go out and get some fresh air. I went and hung out at that park for a while and … wait, now I remember … I got busted by the cops! I remember they were just hassling me at first, giving me a hard time about talking to myself. Then they hauled me away.

FRIEND: Jesus Christ! This could really mess you up with your new job, man. If they find out you’ve got a record, they may not want you after all.

JAY: I gotta get in there fast and try to cover up as much as I can. How did I get myself into such a mess, anyway? I don’t know even know if I want this job. I can’t believe I have to work on Sundays.

FRIEND: From what you told me last week, Sundays are your busiest days. But you said you got Mondays and Tuesdays off. Maybe this first day will just be an orientation kind of thing – get your ID badge, get your email set up, etc. Maybe they won’t work you that hard. What’s that noise?

JAY: Hang on, I’m getting a text message. Ah, heck, I don’t have time for this. It’s Mary Mag – she said she’s on her way over.

FRIEND: She’s probably worried about you, man. You disappear for three days like that and your friends are going to wonder if you’re okay.

JAY: Let’s hurry. Maybe we can still get out before she gets here. I bet she brings that Thomas guy she’s been hanging out with lately. Man, I hate that guy – he’s always poking me in the side and laughing, just giving me a hard time.

FRIEND: Here’s a tie you can wear. You can put it on while we’re on the way.

JAY: Grab me a toaster strudel too, will ya? I’ll eat it cold. I’ve got to get there on time and make a good impression. If I can make it in this job, who knows how high up I might get the next time they’re looking for a top executive.

FRIEND: And it’s only a limited-time contract you’ve got, right? Just 40 days — isn’t that what you told me?

JAY: Well, that’s when the probationary period is over, yeah. I’m not real sure what happens after that, but surely I can hang on and do almost anything for 40 days. The job description I read was pretty vague and didn’t sound that hard – mostly making a few personal appearances, then a chance to move upstairs.

FRIEND: You’re right. How hard can that be? And there’s a fatty paycheck too, right?

JAY: I think they said something about my reward being in the next world. It’s related to how the deferred compensation packages are structured.

FRIEND: Alright, you look good to me. Let’s hit the road. If we hit all the lights, you’ll make it right on time.

JAY: Man, thanks a million for all you’ve done. I never would’ve made it without you.

FRIEND: Christ, you’re something else.

 

Website Review: EquestrianMinistries.com

April 10, 2009

While leafing through the York County Agri-Tourism Guide recently (don’t ask), I came across a small ad for the Equestrian Ministries Drill Team. This is a group of horsemen – fanciers, not centaurs – who “want to share the gospel with other horsemen in our area. We perform at rodeos, churches, horse councils, really anywhere the Lord leads us.” The associated website, www.equestrianministriessaddleclub.com, seemed like a great candidate for my weekly Website Review. And maybe I’d learn what a “horse council” was, since I’m having a hard time imagining these noble beasts in a deliberative setting.

First, I should probably reveal some preconceptions I had going into this effort. I’ve never really associated horses with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was born and raised a good Lutheran, so I know a little something about His life and times, and I must say that I can’t honestly recall a significant equine influence.

I know Christ was born in a manger, where you’d think there’d be some horses running around, but the plastic crèche my family hauled out every Christmas had only cows, sheep and maybe a donkey or two. Little is known about His childhood and adolescence, though I suppose a more-thorough Biblical account could’ve contained a chapter titled “The Equestrian Years.” Maybe it’s in the Apocrypha. As His ministry emerged during His adult years, there always seemed to be plenty of lambs and doves around, and we know how He could transform a single fish into a meal for the multitudes. (If He did the same thing for horses, might that be the horse council?)

As we remember His final days during this holy week before Easter, I do vaguely recall some pictures from a Sunday School coloring book where Jesus was riding a mule in the Palm Sunday procession, but I think He was riding side-saddle and I can’t imagine today’s Christian horsemen endorsing that. I know for a fact there were no horses at the Last Supper, no horses in Gethsemane, and no horses at Calvary. (Unrelated side point: Can you imagine the difficult logistics of crucifying a horse?) Some velvet painting artists do imagine an ascension into Heaven on the back of a unicorn, though I think this is highly speculative at best.

Even in popular culture references, horses and evangelical Christianity never seemed to mix. Mr. Ed was obviously Jewish, the Lone Ranger’s Silver was probably Mormon, and Tonto’s Scout was obviously an animist like his loyal rider. Secretariat, widely believe to be gay, could’ve been a member of one of those metropolitan community churches, but that’s not the brand of Christianity these guys in South Carolina had in mind. Let’s go to the website to see some of what it is they do believe.

The Equestrian Ministries Saddle Club starts immediately with a recruiting pitch on its home page: “Do you love Jesus Christ and want to share with others how they can have a personal relationship with Christ? Do you love horses? Do you love to ride, care for and be around this most magnificent animal?”

EMSC offers training to help you be prepared to share your faith at equestrian events. “Through this training, you learn to minister at a campground, whether you ride horses or not; witness and minister at rodeos, races and horse shows; or serve as a chaplain at your local stable.” Apparently horses must experience salvation in this life in order to get into Horse Heaven. I remember something from confirmation class about camels being unable to get through the eye of a needle, so I guess it seems natural that the same would apply to horses.

One of the more enjoyable ways that club members use to spread their faith is through their drill team. This is where the righteous riders parade about on horseback while swinging multi-colored flags high over their heads, hopefully without gouging out the eyes of their mounts. The colors represent the plan of salvation – blue for sky, red for Jesus’ blood, white for purity, black for sin, green for spiritual growth, and yellow for … I’m going to say bananas. “We use Christian and Bluegrass music. We are always looking for new stuff. We are self taught. With many mistakes in the beginning, our team motto is ‘follow your leader.’ Thursday practices are stress relief with fellowship.”

There’s also a PDF of the February club newsletter that gives some behind-the-scenes insight into how that fellowship manifests itself on a regular basis. Typed in all caps to emphasize that it truly is the Word of God (Who apparently didn’t use spellcheck), I’ll offer some excerpts here:

WOW! OUR DRILL TEAM PERFORMED SATURDAY AND ALL WENT WELL. WE HAD WITNESS BRACLETS (bracelets) AND HANDED OUT TRACKS (tracts) IN THE CROWD AFTER OUR PERFORMANCE. WE ARE SO PROUD OF OUR KORI FOR COWGIRLING UP WITH THE AMERICAN FLAG. YOU GO GIRL. WE HAD A GOOD CROWD AT OUR FEURARY (February) MEETING. WE ALL LOVE TO EAT SO COOKING CHICKEN AND DUMPLINS (dumplings) WAS A GREAT IDEA. HATS OFF TO WANDA.WE HAD A FABOULOUS (fabulous) DEVOTION ON BEING PERSISTANT (persistent) IN OUR PRAYERS. WE HAD A GRAT (great? grating? grave?) TIME OF SHARING. ALWAYS CARRY YOUR CELL PHONE ON YOUR BODY.

The memo board section makes mention of members and friends who are having troubles and need “prayer concerns.” LINDA WALKER KNEE REPLACEMENT, DANIEL BARRETT LAP BAND, SHERRY CONNOR BACK SURGERY, TED AND WANDA FINANCIAL, SYLVIA BROWN’S BABY HORSE HAS A VIRUS. For those of you unfamiliar with the condition, I believe “lap band” is either a gastric bypass procedure or an aggregation of mites in your crotch. I suspect it’s the latter, considering how these folks are regularly sitting astride the hide of a farm animal.

There’s really not much more to the primitive website than this. There are minutes to a meeting where it was agreed the “lack of horsemanship” at a recent parade should be met with a letter of concern to the organizers. There’s a “sermon from the saddle” with typically cryptic Bible verses: “Even though I don’t care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!” There’s a horse trailer for sale for $1500 (842-7424, ask for Wilbur).

Maybe it’s because today is Good Friday, but I feel a little guilty making fun of these earnest country folk and their beloved steeds. It’s healthy and admirable to have some fervor in life; I’m just not sure you necessarily have to combine your hobbies when there’s more than one. I like both blogging and running, yet I don’t feel compelled (or safe) doing them both at the same time.

I’m going to end this post in the spirit of Easter and wish the Equestrian Ministries Saddle Club all the best as they pursue their passion for the one who carries them from the hardships of this life to a spiritual height where peace and love are all-consuming. And I hope the Christianity thing works out for them too.