1 Lord, I have so many enemies!
So many are standing against me.
2 So many are talking about me:
“Even God won’t help him.” Selah[a]
3 But you, Lord, are my shield!
You are my glory!
You are the one who restores me.
4 I cry out loud to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain. Selah
5 I lie down, sleep, and wake up
because the Lord helps me.
6 I won’t be afraid of thousands of people
surrounding me on all sides.
7 Stand up, Lord!
Save me, my God!
In fact, hit all my enemies on the jaw;
shatter the teeth of the wicked!
8 Rescue comes from the Lord!
May your blessing be on your people! Selah
Psalm 3:1-8 CEB
-Rev Melissa Fain-
(Soft trigger warning for depression.)
Being able to read the whole story, and having read the whole story year after year, we forget how spiritually dark today really is.
As a camper I enjoy the predawn night. The campfires are out, the stars seem to glow in ways I couldn't see before going to bed. At that point I'm used to the dark. I've lived a whole night with it. Holy Saturday, in contrast is a quick and deepening darkness.
Now depression? That's a feeling and a darkeness I am not comfortable with, nor do I want to re-experience. It does trick the mind into thinking happiness and hope will never return. All appears lost.
I think many Americans can connect with the Disciples this Saturday before Easter. Their hope is dead. Jesus, the one they thought was going to take down the system and become the warrior king of scripture, didn't lift a finger to fight and died on a cross. On Saturday, not only could none of them understand what was coming, they were completely lost in the darkness. What do we do with that today?
The Disciples, the ones who saw Jesus face to face, and witnessed his ministry were scared. We, as biblical readers, know there is a blinding light on the other side of their darkness, but they did not. This day is here to remind us the truth about darkness: The darkness does not take away or destroy the things that give us hope and love, it simply hides it from view. God is always there, and always present. Just because you can't see it, doesn't make it any less true.
If this particular message seems to be speaking directly to you, I'm so sorry you are dealing with the weight of depression. My personal experience lasted about two years, and part of my journey was being honest about it. Please seek out people with spiritual flashlights to help you see what has always been there. You are not alone, and the light is right around the corner.
-Rev Melissa Fain-
That evening a man named Joseph came. He was a rich man from Arimathea who had become a disciple of Jesus. He came to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate gave him permission to take it. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had carved out of the rock. After he rolled a large stone at the door of the tomb, he went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting in front of the tomb.
The next day, which was the day after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate. They said, “Sir, we remember that while that deceiver was still alive he said, ‘After three days I will arise.’ Therefore, order the grave to be sealed until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people, ‘He’s been raised from the dead.’ This last deception will be worse than the first.”
Pilate replied, “You have soldiers for guard duty. Go and make it as secure as you know how.” Then they went and secured the tomb by sealing the stone and posting the guard.
Matthew 27:57-66 CEB
I fully believe the bravest people in the world are the ones who have the most to lose, and they risk it all for the sake of others. That’s what I think of when I read Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Jesus and placed him in his tomb. Two important bits of context.
First, Jesus’ closest disciples were currently hiding. They were fearful for their lives. Second, during this time there were tons of really poor people, and a few very rich people. Forget middle class, that just didn’t exist back then.
For Joseph, there was nothing to be gained from admitting you were a disciple of Jesus, but there was everything to lose. That’s a kind of bravery I doubt many in America would understand. We know the ending to this story. We know what happens in act three. Joseph didn’t know.
Tomorrow we celebrate new life after death. Today we celebrate those who risk it all for the sake of others. Human or Divine, we should look on both with awe and respect.
- - -
We know the night is darkest before the dawn.
Before the sun rises on this Easter morn, show us the stars that still shine in the darkness.