Saturday, April 3, 2021

Holy Saturday: The Shadow Between Lament and Liberation

have been to this spot many times, born and raised within an forty-five minute radius of Annapolis. I have many memories walking with family and high school friends along the edges of the harbor and the narrow bricked streets. I love NapTown. But there was something different about yesterday’s venture. 

Maybe it was the shadow of the Naval Academy that is the epicenter of the city, which I understand very differently now than in my youth. Maybe it’s how I watched my children masked up and playing tag just close enough to the edge of the pier to make mom and dad’s heart stop for a moment before we yelled to be careful and knock it off. Maybe it’s because we passed by a church where friends of mine serve as co-pastors and I found hope in their witness in the capital of my beloved Maryland. Maybe it’s because my sister and brother-in-law live here now. 

All of this may be true. But as I sat at home late last night, what I could not get out of my head were the symbols and statues, plaques and quotes that reminded visitors and locals alike that these waters are where Kunta Kinte touched down alongside so many other African siblings transported across the Atlantic and sold into slavery. Here. In Annapolis. Where my family grew up. Where children play. Where the privilege sail. Where I sip my coffee. Where the governor lives. These waters are beautiful. They also have a story. One I did not learn in my youth. It was covered up and dismissed in shame and ignorance. 

On this Good Friday, in the midst of these last twelve months, this reality hit me differently than in previous visits. And on this Holy Saturday, when we linger in the lament and loss of One murdered by the religious and political systems of his day, I grieve those who have been victimized by the powers in both spaces of my own. I consider the many around this nation who live in the shadows of this empire, even as children run and play, wondering if they are the next to have their dignity slandered, bodies wounded, and lives claimed. I wonder about the Kunta Kinte’s of 2021, whose stories are not always told and remain in bondage. I wonder how I will tell their stories to my children so they can live and love alongside them for the sake of the justice and jubilee for which Jesus died.

Holy Saturday is hard. Holy Saturday is a shadow cast between the despair of yesterday and the hope of tomorrow. Holy Saturday is when we dwell in this shadow and covenant once again to hear the stories of the many for whom the Jesus story is more than a truism but their lived reality. Holy Saturday is when we remember the waters of our baptism that dare us to come up and out of the shadows of death and move together towards newness of life. Holy Saturday reminds us of the complexity of life, both beautiful and tragic all the same. But Holy Saturday is not the end. 

Tomorrow can and will come.