This is one of my favorite days of the years. Partly for its awkwardness and partly for its symbolic possibilities.
I grew up evangelical so we never really knew what to do with the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday except to get ready to get ready for the Sunday festivities. Our Catholic neighbors seemed to take the same approach.
Then I was a pastor in Saratoga Springs, NY and we had church on Saturday night. This was wonderful because, like the disciples in the story, we went back to business-as–usual with the full knowledge that it was anything but.
As a Mainline pastor you kind of hold your breath because you have been busy since Ash Wednesday and Lent has worn you down (especially if you gave up something fun) but you still have the biggest service or services of the year to get ready for.
I love Silent Saturday because as much as we declare that we are ‘an Easter People’ and as fond of substitutionary atonement as our worship choruses are, we live primarily on Silent Saturday.
I have been reading a lot in the last couple of years about the spirituality of everyday life. It is a fascinating subset of thought.
Everyday has the possibility of being transformative and building up an accumulation of goodness. Think of what you could do if you did something 365 times in a row!
Unfortunately in the modern world, it too often becomes the repetition of monotony, boredom, and routine. We have been lulled into the quiet resignation of drudgery and the malaise of channel surfing and binge watching.
The amazing possibilities of the everyday has been drowned out by the dull droning and endless offerings of clickbait and online sales.
This is where our faith should make the biggest difference! Unfortunately something vital has been conceded and many are suffering for it in an impotent existence and unfruitful faith.
My friend put it this way:
” I think we killed belief in the resurrection with historical critical scholarship. When we did that (last century), we killed belief in a God who does anything in general…and the effects are trickling down. We sucked the life out of our tradition. Thing is, the scholarship adds up. It is right. We just need to find something to believe in again if we want our churches to invigorate. It just can’t be the harmonized, naive reading of the gospels. So…we’ve got work to do.”
We have work to do.
It is one of the reasons that I am excited to head back into the pulpit this summer. This year of being a seminary professor has been a fascinating and eye-opening experience. I am professing at an Evangelical seminary on the heals of pastoring at a Mainline church. I’m not sure that anything could have illustrated the profound and pronounced differences more than this.
I have become passionate about the spirituality of the every day. Examining the everyday spiritually of 21st century existence is a good start and a worthwhile endeavor on its own. It is an essential first step but I’m not sure that it is sufficient to overcome the challenge that we are up against.
After one becomes familiar with the everyday spirituality of those in their community – the second step is to craft an idea of the spirituality of the every day. What I am thinking of here is an updated version of what John Wesley called ‘practical divinity’: the life of faith in the real lived experience of everyday existence.
It brings together the historic practices of faith and an eyes-wide-open embrace of our contemporary situation. I have no interest in playing church or romanticizing some previous period of church history. Our situation is stark and the competition has evolved.
I say it often but the future of the church is not to be found in Europe’s past.
This, then, is the challenge of Silent Saturday.
I would love to hear you thoughts as I continue to dream about what it could look like to live this out in community.
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