Tonight is a liminal time and this is a liminal space that we have created, in order to draw near to Christ. For it is easier to draw near to Christ in a liminal time and place than in any other. Between light and dark, there is the twilight of dawn or dusk, exactly the kind of light in which the women went to the tomb on the first Easter Day. Between grief and happiness there is a space that belongs to the shy gift of joy, whose nature partakes of both. Between life and death, death and life, there is the waiting time; the time when nothing appears to be happening, but actually everything is happening. This is the chrysalis time, when the caterpillar dissolves and the butterfly emerges. The work is done inside, unseen and unknown...
I wonder what thresholds you have knowingly or heedlessly crossed since last Holy Saturday; since the last time you deliberately put yourself on the threshold of life and death and chose to sit there without flinching for a while. For each of us in a year there will have been partings and greetings; friends made and lost; opportunities grasped and let go. There will have been times of waiting, for birth, for death, for some things to let loose their hold and for others to spring up. In our time of silence in a little while you may like to ponder some of these and reflect upon the hand of God in them. Where in your life have thresholds been crossed that led to resurrection? For be sure that the times, places and persons surrounding resurrection are all liminal, at once alerting us to the potent presence of the divine and at the same time if we are not careful scaring us back into the security of dogmatic assertions. But resurrection is not about certainty. It can only be known by experience.
The body of Jesus would have been laid on a narrow stone shelf. It would have been not unlike being laid flat on one of our pews. The body would have been wrapped in linen cloths, tenderly wound around and left until the flesh rotted away and only the bones remained to be taken away for burial. This is where Jesus spent Holy Saturday, in a dark tomb, doing apparently nothing. Resting as God did on the seventh day of the first Creation. His friends went home to rest too for it was the Sabbath day.
There were no witnesses to what actually happened in the dark of that tomb. No one heard or saw anything. The so called witnesses to the resurrection, witnessed only absence - the body gone; or Presence, a risen figure different enough that they failed to recognise him a first. The resurrection itself, the moment of change and transformation, was seen by no one. No bells and whistles. Sometime in the quiet of the sabbath night a change occurred, so momentous that we still wait to receive something of its echo over two thousand years later. It cannot be proved scientifically or even theologically, for like all things experienced in the liminal space - the space of dream and vision and transformation, it tends to ambiguity, openness and indeterminacy.
For us here tonight this is a time to draw near and to wait, in the knowledge that in the silence and the darkness, new life is rising. For some of us it may be new life in a relationship or vocation. For others it may be in a letting go and an allowing, making the space where God can act as only God can. For all of us, who have responded to the prompting of the Spirit and come here to watch and wait tonight, there is the promised new Life of deepened relationship with the dying and rising Christ. So even as Christ descended to the furthest depths of Hades to release those in captivity there, so may we know ourselves released this night from all that binds us, that we may welcome the new light with joy unquenchable.
So for a time now let us wait and let us allow God to work within us, raising up within us the gift of new life. Amen.
Penny Jones, for Sanctus, Holy Saturday, 31 March 2018