A No Name Saturday

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Synopsis of: No Name Saturday – Tomorrow, a Rainbow

Good and joyful morning to all Christian brothers and sisters, on this the day the lord has made. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or whatever is your favorite…. We’re about to slice a piece of the bread of life, the word of god
And today’s slice comes from….

Genesis 9:1-17     “….then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as i gave you the green plants, i now give you everything. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood i will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, i will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of god has god made man.  As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”

Then god said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you-the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you-every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant i am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds,
I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.
Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between god and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” So god said to Noah, “this is the sign of the covenant i have established between me and all life on the earth.”

Lent is usually devoted to looking down the long journey to the still obscured (but we know it is glorious) miracle of Easter.
No matter how intentional our Lenten days of prayer, no matter what we may “give up” for lent, no matter how focused we may be on the tragedy of the crucifixion, we still know we are looking forward to Easter morning, and the transforming joy of the resurrection. It is hard to pretend we don’t know the ending to Christ’s story.

But the fact is, even though we may know the “end,” most of us don’t know even consider the “middle” of this journey. The most neglected, the most misunderstood twenty-four hours in the entire Christian calendar is given the name of “No-Name Saturday,” that deep, dark, extremely earthly day between the completed crucifixion and the miracle of the resurrection. In the apostle’s creed it comes to us in these four words that are seldom commented on: “he descended into hell.”

In the Christian tradition we envision those depths as “hell,” that agonizing separation from God, branded with fire and brimstone. But in Judaism and in Jesus’ day that place between heaven and earth was known as Sheol, a dark, shadowy, not-living but not-torturous “place” at the center of the earth.

It wasn’t over for Jesus after he was crucified. He still had this part of his journey to make. Jesus had to go down before he could go up. The grace of god’s redemption was not contained by his death on the cross. Jesus’ sacrifice involved much more. What Jesus embraced with his birth, with his life, he also embraced with his death. Jesus embraced the world. Jesus embraced the earth.

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