Fortieth Day of Lent, Holy Saturday

John 19:38-42

The body fresh from the cross, wounds oozing, breath no more. Tender hands perform the rituals, sorrow’s scent mingling with aromatic myrrh and aloes while darkness deepens. Pure linen caresses the shattered limbs. Christ’s body anointed.

Where is the hope?

When my mother died some years ago, she did so in her home, surrounded by four of her six daughters. I was there, forever altered by the holy passing, the moment when time temporal touched time eternal. Then we cared for her body, tenderly washing, humming hymns that sustained my mom – “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” This was a sacred ritual, one that acknowledged the sacredness of my mother’s body, her temple of births and abuse, desire and lamentation, strength and degeneration. Her journey with God. Her soul’s address.

It was a profoundly hope-filled moment.

Do bodies really matter that much to God?  Well yes, they must, since Christ himself came wrapped in skin, lungs expanding, his holy and eternal breath taking and filling the air of a specific time and place. In his body, Christ touched and healed, spoke and rested, prayed and wept, and felt the thongs of his dusty sandals chafe his feet. Our bodies, like his, feel the grittiness of life.

And so, Christ, the Word made flesh, calls us to an earthy practice of living, where washing feet and serving bread and embracing the skin of another become embodiments of the One we follow, the One whose broken body becomes our strength.

As we pause on this day before Easter, on this day of death and burial, of sorrow made redolent with the anticipation of the Resurrection, help us remember, O God, that we are brothers and sisters of Christ. Help us remember that whatever experiences our fleshly bodies may have, they are opportunities to live the sacredness of our God-with-us lives.

We will know death and life. Joy and sorrow. Mysteries revealed and darkness endured. And there is Christ, God Incarnate, in the midst of it all.

This is our hope.

Deb Arndt
College Park Covenant Church
Saskatoon, SK