A Still Sabbath

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Written by George Vink
Regional Pastor of Classis Grand Rapids South

Recently, upon my wife’s urging, I’ve been writing the story of my life. I’ve entitled it, “My Journey,” but maybe should change it to, “Our Journey.” Shirley has certainly been an integral part of the journey since I was twenty. But then, a faded copy of a baptism certificate indicates God’s presence came twenty years earlier. During fifty years of pastoring, I’ve had the privilege of conducting worship, baptisms, weddings and funerals. I have the best record of the funerals. Over one hundred times, I walked away from open graves, doing so in expectation of the resurrection. Many of those with whom I walked have since been laid to rest, awaiting their own.

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus the Questioner asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. In accordance with their burial customs, they wrapped it, using a great deal of myrrh and other aloes. They had to hurry. Even in their grief, the sabbath rules were to be kept. Imagine their gratitude for being able to do something being overshadowed by their grief. They could do this for Jesus, but he was dead. Done, they walked home in silence, wondering and waiting. But, waiting for what? They expected no resurrection, no flash of light and a rolling away of the stone sealing the silent. A still, silent sabbath lay ahead.

There were no readings from First Corinthians 15 assuring them with “So will it be….” No soloist sang Psalm 23’s, “The Lord’s My Shepherd.” There were no family and congregation members confessing together, “My Only Comfort in Life and in Death is that I belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” Their Jesus was wrapped up in spices to avoid the stench of decay to come. The body of their Jesus was so still, so silent now. Their Jesus’ words proclaiming, “I am the resurrection and the life,” were forgotten. A still, a fearful silent sabbath lay ahead.

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Today, we live in the days of COVID-19. On Good Friday we remember Christ’s awful death and the ministry of two fearful, undeclared followers.

But, we do so, knowing Sunday is coming!

We’re laying loved ones to rest, whether due to the virus or not, doing so in expectation of a promised future. Ours is not a still sabbath or a day of desperate despair.

Maybe it should be a day to reflect and hear the Psalmist’s wise instruction, “Be Still and Know that I Am God.” Encourage your heart and hear the words of the resurrected Jesus, “I Am With You!” A time of being still is a time to grow in one’s certainty of God’s presence, today and tomorrow.

Just wait and, “Be Still.”