Today as part of my morning prayer and meditation time, I read Stan McKay’s reflection in the Bible Study book Longing for Home. Stan based his thoughts on Psalm 127:2-3 The psalmist is remembering the exile of the children of Israel. “On the willows there we hung our harps. For there, our captors asked us for songs and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”
I had been thinking about Jesus’ friends as they lived through that “inbetween” day we call Holy Saturday. Their sadness, their questions, their anger, their fear – it would have been overwhelming. How could they sing and dance in the midst of their grief. How could they continue to live.
Stan McKay ends his reflection with the story of one of the hymns in our United Church Hymnbook – “Many and Great, O God, Are Your Works” I have felt God’s push all day to share his story with you.
“The Dakota (Peoples) resisted the expansion of settlement into their territory, the north central plains of what is now the United States. The U.S. cavalry hunted Dakota warriors, and on one expedition, 18 men were captured. They were brought back to the fort and sentenced to death by hanging. In the morning as they walked across the compound to the gallows, the Dakota men sang a chant which the soldiers believed to be pagan. The army’s linguist later translated the song to what is now # 308 in Voices United.” (Stan McKay)
For those who don’t have access to Voices United here are the words of that hymn:
“Many and great O God, are your works, Maker of earth and sky. Your hands have set the heavens with stars, your fingers spread the mountains and plains. Lo at your word the waters were formed, deep seas obey your voice.
Grant unto us communion with you, O star abiding one. Come unto us and dwell with us, with you are found the gifts of life. Bless us with your life that has no end, eternal life with you.”
Their song did not change their execution, just as our statements of faith, prayers and songs don’t remove the cause of our grief. Holy Saturday, is the the “inbetween” time, the time when we face the pain in our lives and wait on God. It’s the time when we focus on God’s promise of new life. It’s the time when we see the buds on the trees and give thanks that there is a light on our horizon to guide us home.
Blessings to all of you.