Today's Lectionary Reading: Lamentations 3:1-9,19-24; Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16; 1 Peter 4: 1-8, Matthew 27:57-66
Selected Passage for Reflection: Lamentations 3:1-9,19-24
1I am one who has seen affliction under the rod of God’s[a] wrath; 2 he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; 3 against me alone he turns his hand, again and again, all day long.
4 He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones; 5 he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; 6 he has made me sit in darkness like the dead of long ago.
7 He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me; 8 though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; 9 he has blocked my ways with hewn stones, he has made my paths crooked.
19 The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall! 20 My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me. 21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,[b] his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
The Easter story is often centered around Jesus’ death and resurrection. At least that is what I grew up with. It was because we knew that Sunday was coming, and therefore it was easy to overlook the day in between. Holy Saturday, a day often marked by darkness and waiting. Waiting in the darkness. Learning to wait in the darkness. Who wants to reflect on that? I sure don’t; however, the fact of the matter is that in this life there will be moments of darkness. There seems to be no escaping it no matter how hard we try to ensure our happiness. And for those who have had their fair share of dark nights of the soul or being thrust into dark times due to traumatic events, loss, depression, reflecting on this day is necessary. Talking about the darkness is necessary. What do we do when we find ourselves driven into darkness without any light?
Darkness is scary. We can’t see. We often feel lost, alone, and afraid, and we tend to stumble, trip, and fall. Darkness has the ability to crush our soul, and at times it feels as though we are being held down by heavy chains. It can leave us feeling bitter. Often times it feels as though God is distant or that God has intentionally put us here to teach us a lesson perhaps to depend upon Her and Her alone. Although it is hard for me to believe that God intentionally envelops us in darkness, I do believe that we can find God in the midst of darkness. What this passage and Holy Saturday teaches us is that we do not need to be afraid of the darkness because there God is present. Jesus is in the tomb with us, and when it is time, we will be resurrected with Him.
When people find out that I am from Alaska, they immediately ask me how many hours of daylight we get in the summer, or is it true that in the winter, you will not see the sun for 30 days? Just so you know, only villages above the Arctic circle will not see the sun rise again for about 66 days meaning that people spend a majority of that time in darkness. They’ve endured it for years and continue to endure it because they know that eventually the sun will rise again.
God often speaks to me through metaphors of light and darkness because of where I live. Over Christmas break, I was able to travel to Nome to spend some time in Alaska. I ended up going on a walk with a friend of mine and told her of the darkness that I had been sitting in due to the tragic loss of my brother the summer prior and that slowly the Light was coming back into my life. As we were gazing at the ocean talking, the sun began to set. She drew my attention to the light and that what I am experiencing right now, much like the days after the winter solstice, is a reversal of light. The days will grow brighter, slowly but surely. Darkness doesn’t last forever, and it will not win. There is light on the horizon, and that light is Jesus. Having walked through darkness for much of last year, the darkness does not seem so scary anymore, for darkness is as light to God (Psalm 139:12).
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Take a moment and reflect on some of the heavier times in your life. Perhaps you are in the thick of it right now. Take a few deep breaths to help you center yourself. Visualize Jesus with you in those moments. Where is he? What is he doing? What is he saying to you? Record this encounter with Jesus in a journal or a note on your phone or computer. After you are done, listen to Psalm 139 by Monica Laytham and let the words wash over you.
Quyana Agaiyun, thank you God that your love never ceases - that your mercies never come to an end and that they are new each morning. Great is your faithfulness. God, we are grateful that you are a God who does not leave nor forsake us rather that You walk with us in the midst of the dark moments of our lives. You have given us reason to hope and that hope lies in your Son who needed to spend time in the dark tomb in order to be resurrected so that we too might have the hope of the resurrection. Amen.
About the Author
Tricia Ivanoff is from the small village of Unalakleet, Alaska. She is Inupiaq and Yup’ik. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of Divinity and Master of Business Administration from North Park Theological Seminary. She is passionate about working towards the healing of Native peoples’ in her region and is a continual learner of her peoples’ traditional ways and language.