This weekend forms the center of the Christian church and its influence on Western culture. The familiar story includes Roman Governor Pontius Pilate presiding over the crucifixion but washing his hands of it. The body taken down and buried in a cave. Whatever hope came from Jesus seemed quite dead. This isn’t only in the Bible, but other writings of that day:
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, is not extinct at this day.
—Josephus , Antiquities of the Jews - XVIII, 3:8-10 (note: the authenticity of this quote, like almost all writings of the period, is questioned)
Then the waiting day of Saturday. Even fervent believers must have doubted—was the man they followed indeed a criminal, as he had died, nothing more? Saturday, for me, is the day of wonder because it feels familiar to our own circumstances—dreams gone, promises not kept—yet what to do with oneself in the vacuum of hope?
The day that gets celebrated is Easter, when the stone gets rolled away from the cave—it is empty—and Jesus reappears. The calendar used around the world now is based on what happened two thousand years ago in the story that starts in Bethlehem and ends in Golgotha Hill, Calvary. Here's a poem:
I am a Christian again this yeart—he vote was
fifty-two to forty-five in my Senate
and there was such chaos in my House
it never got out of committee.
Still I visited church on Good Friday. They said
You carried your cross giving no hint of your future—
when you droped it
You performed no miracles
but quietly shouldered your burden
as we all have to do.
Then Easter, the shock of the empty tomb.
Yes, perhaps separating "Christians" from "Jews"
but I need your resurrection this year,
Your promise all my mistakes will be forgiven
If I can just quiet my legislature,
let your love guide my life
let your love lead me home.
Causes Kevin Arnold Supports
Poetry Center San Jose, East Palo Alto Police Activities League (EPA PAL), Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Yale Writing Conference, Gold Rush Writers