We begin the first of five Tuesday evening sermons in Lent focused on “finding God amid all that troubles us in our lives and in the world.” This evening we explore the ultimate terms of life: “Life in the Midst of Death.”[i] I’m going to start with eternity and then move back-from-the-future into the present. First, a disclaimer. My own experience of life after death is limited. I’ll come back to that.
After Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus said he was going away to prepare a place for us, where he invites us to follow. [ii] This place in heaven is a “mansion” according to the King James Version of the Bible, which is what I learned from as a child. Maybe also you? However the Greek word that was translated into English in the 1500s as “mansion” does not mean what the word “mansion” connotates for us today. For us today, a mansion is like a small palace, like the oceanfront mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. But the Greek word used here is actually much more modest and far more intriguing. The Greek word is simply a temporary dwelling place: an inn for overnight lodging.[iii]Along the ancient Roman roads, travelers’ inns were placed about a day’s journey one from another where travelers would spend the night.
The Greek word for this inn that Jesus prepares for us implies a journey, an ongoing development. Rather than imagining eternity as something static – where we are installed in a private palace – imagine eternity as an adventure in the company of heaven, with travelers’ inns being prepared for us, both for our heavenly rest and for our heavenly adventure, as we move from light to light, from one inn to the next.
"Even now, in the midst of daily trials, our entire being—body, mind and spirit—is being raised by Christ, who lives in us and for us. Resurrection to the fullness of eternal life has already begun in our mortal selves. As we follow Jesus in suffering and servanthood, we pass with him through the shameful cross into Christ’s own glory and into the heart of God." – Br. Jonathan Maury
Holy Saturday is a day of waiting, anticipation, and preparation for Easter. We know that Jesus is in the Tomb.
An ancient homily for Holy Saturday, which you can listen to below, meditates on the mystery of this day: "Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep."
You might pray today with stillness, silence.
What parts of you are dying? What parts of you are waiting for new life?
Consider what in your life is giving you life right now – and give thanks. Consider what is draining or destroying life in you right now. As we await the glory of Easter, ponder what God’s invitation to ‘new life’ might look like in your present circumstances.
Liturgy of the Word, an ancient lyrical homily
Love the emptiness. If you do not have space in your soul – if you keep yourself filled on food or constant activity or ever-new ideas– your desire will be blunted or even perverted. We have been created with the gift of desire, to long for, to anticipate.
– Br. Curtis Almquist
Society of Saint John the Evangelist
Video not displaying? Click here to view: https://youtu.be/g4cwj-BZgS0
Question for Reflection:
Where might life be waiting to erupt out of emptiness for you?