The following is from a sermon by The Rev. Timus Taylor of St. George’s Episcopal Church on Holy Saturday, March 30, 2013. Rev. Taylor asked a question I’d never thought of: “What happened in those three days between Good Friday and Easter morning?”
“Darkness. Utter, Stygian blackness unrelieved. No glimmer of star, no stir of breath, cold as dead hope, dark as our worst fears, our deepest shame. Still as the numbness after a death, mercifully anesthetizing the stabs of grief.
If there were any light, we could see the walls of the cave, and over there the dead body, whose wrappings conceal strange nail wounds, and the gash left by a soldier’s spear.
This darkness and stillness seem to go on for a long age…
And then! The air begins to stir---gently, then with gathering power.
It is the breath that moved over the world before land and sea were divided; the wind that pushed back the waters of the Red Sea, so that terrified refugees might flee slavery.
It is the ruach, the breath of God. As it reaches the dead body, the dissolution of death stops. The cells rekindle; the heart muscle contracts, the warm blood pulses along familiar paths, the lungs welcome air again.
For God has intervened: and death’s prison is plundered.
And on Easter, at daybreak, against the canvas of an apple-green dawn sky and the blazing rays of an enormous golden sun, Jesus of Nazareth stood, revealed as Son of God and first-born of a new race, and everything sad will begin to come untrue.
“To all who received Him, writes St. John, “He gave power to become children of God---who were born, not of human will or desire, but born of God.”
“How can these things be?!” exclaimed Nicodemus long ago; and in our own pragmatic way we add, “How can this happen to me?” and “How can I believe this to be true?”
When we approach Holy Baptism, offered from earliest times on this night, we stand over a great pool of unknown depth. All our lives we have kept our options open, prudently protecting ourselves, cautiously steering our own course.
Now we are asked to let go of this control and dive into the pool, trusting that God will bear us up. It is a radical shift in the very center of our lives, from self-will as our compass, to the unfolding will of God. It has been called being born again or born anew, for it is a second birth into a whole new level and way of living, with the spirit of God as guide and power.
This turning over our wills to God will have to be done again and again, for the habit of self-seeking does not die easily. But there must also be a first time.
Each of us can know, upon reflection, whether we have in fact made this complete surrender of our lives to God, who seeks us in His Son. And each of us can know this night who is in effective control of our lives, our willing and doing.
All that is asked of us, is that we offer as much of ourselves as we can, this Easter, to as much of Christ as we understand. He will do the rest.
We stand today outside of ordinary time and space. The light kindled in darkness will grow, and become the dazzling rainbow light from another world, clothing us round with the splendor of the adopted children of God.
Christ indeed from death is risen,
our new life obtaining.
Alleluia! Thanks be to God!"