This is Holy Saturday.

It’s an in-between day, a limbo. It is deeply unsettling, especially if you need your world to be categorisable, identifiable, graspable. This day is anything but. Full of mystery, full of pain and fears. If that seems remote or obscure, then put yourself in the shoes of those who followed Jesus to Jerusalem. They couldn’t get their heads around the predictions he’d given about these final days (3 times in Mark’s gospel, for example). They were incredulous.

I think we can best sum up the experience in the words of the two on the road to Emmaus.

The chief priests and our rulers handed [Jesus] over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.

Luke 24:20-21
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1908-1945)

Note the tense. ‘…we had hoped…’ in other words, ‘we don’t now.’ They are walking away from Jerusalem because it is all over. He’s dead. Some folks somehow believe, but we’re getting out of here.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of the most remarkable theologians of the 20th Century – no ivory-towered academic though, he was someone who walked where his conscience and discipleship drove him. Ultimately, that led to the gallows in a Nazi concentration camp. The wonder is that we can eavesdrop on some of his thoughts while in prison, through the letters he wrote to people outside, in particular, his dear friend Eberhard Bethge.

If there video doesn’t display correctly, click here

Flossenburg camp after liberation by the US Army
Westminster Abbey, west end: 20th Century Martyrs

The full list of martyrs: Maximilian KolbeManche MasemolaJanani LuwumGrand Duchess Elizabeth of RussiaMartin Luther KingÓscar RomeroDietrich BonhoefferEsther JohnLucian Tapiedi, and Wang Zhiming

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Beth

    Thank you. It’s what I needed today. So often when in difficulty Bonhoeffer’s hymn has come to me…. ‘Von guten Mächten wunderbar geborgen…’ . It’s not just the words that help, but the reassurance that Bonhoeffer was given grace to triumph in a situation that was far, far worse than any I will likely ever encounter. Beth

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