By Sarah Cornwell
A Reading from Hebrews 4:1-16
1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For indeed the good news came to us just as to them; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
“As in my anger I swore,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”
though his works were finished at the foundation of the world. 4 For in one place it speaks about the seventh day as follows, “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this place it says, “They shall not enter my rest.” 6 Since therefore it remains open for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he sets a certain day—“today”—saying through David much later, in the words already quoted,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not speak later about another day. 9 So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; 10 for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs.
12 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.
14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Today is Holy Saturday. Jesus is dead, buried, and all we can do is wait for what is to happen next.
Many of today’s readings focus on rest. Really? So often, the longer we have to wait, the more restless we become. Just as water can find a way into any fissure, over time, suspicion and discontent can find a way into the cracks of our soul. Rather than a time of deep, spiritual rest, waiting can leave us exhausted as we struggle to keep the light of hope burning under a leaking ceiling. Sooner or later, we may start to ask ourselves the question: Do we really believe that God will fulfill his promises?
From where we’re sitting right now, the Christian project looks like one colossal failure. The highest it ever got off the ground was when Jesus was lifted up on a cross. It crashed and burned, and its wreckage laid in a tomb. Sitting here, looking back on a very long week that comes at the end of a long Lent, we might be tempted to think, don’t we all look like idiots? The longer we wait, the more the promises of God may start to look pretty feeble when compared to the cold, hard stone of reality, the tomb staring us in the face.
This is why as the Church we wait together. Across the world, Christians will gather for the Great Vigil of Easter, some today, some next Saturday. By the light of the Christ candle, we will read from the Bible and remind ourselves of how time and again, others have waited on the Lord and how time and again, God came through for his people.
Wait on the Lord just a little longer, beloved. The darkness of this restless night will soon be banished, and we will see that God most certainly keeps his promises.
Sarah Cornwell is a laywoman and an associate of the Eastern Province of the Community of St. Mary. She and her husband have six children and they live in the Hudson Valley north of New York City.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
St. Francis Episcopal Church, Potomac, Md.
The Diocese of Kutigi – The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)