Hope is a dangerous thing.
A radical thing.
A subversive thing.
If you’ve ever looked at this world of ours and wished it could be changed, well, hope is what makes people like us believe we can change it.
It’s an odd sort of day, Holy Saturday. A day when nothing much really happens. The truth of yesterday, the uncomfortable, painful truth that our light and joy and whole reason for being has been sucked out of the world, is still true. But after all the drama and adrenaline of yesterday, today we’re left alone in our lostness.
The busyness – that’s all stopped.
The rest of the world – they’ve gone back to normal, back to the way it was before.
Before anyone had ever heard of an upstart young carpenter from Galilee who said he was going to change the world, and who died trying.
In the emptiness left behind, perhaps today we come to terms with exactly who it was we loved and how much it was we lost.
But – has it really gone back to the way it was before?
I come from a tradition where on Holy Saturday we still come together. The people who sat with Jesus at his first Eucharist and his last supper, whose feet he washed, who went with him to the Garden of Gethsemane, and who stayed by his side at the foot of the Cross right until the veryend. On Holy Saturday, with Jesus lying dead in his tomb, we all come back together, in a frenzy of cleaning and polishing and baking and organising.
Time is a funny old thing during the Triduum. The Passion isn’t something you tell, and it isn’t really even something you relive. And this story we’ve been telling of things that happened in Jerusalem two thousand years ago isn’t a story, it’s a truth and that truth is Gospel. And that truth is something that we live. Every year. Over and over and over again, and for the very first time. Ancient and forever.
Today, God is dead.
On Holy Saturday, I don’t know what’s going to happen on Sunday.
Yet, here we all still are.
Because you can kill a lot of things, but you can’t kill hope.
A hope that is in the cleaning and the polishing and the hiding of Easter eggs, and in the improbable belief of an impossible resurrection that might – just might – happen anyway.
But a hope that is in so much more than that.
As we’ve gone through this week, the world has watched France singing hymns on the banks of the Seine to Notre Dame as she burned. After all the loveliness from the Eucharist had been cleared away on Thursday evening and the cathedral was stripped, I found myself standing still in the middle of the High Altar where, at that point, the presence light still shone, thinking about the people of Paris and the way they would have stripped their cathedral on Monday, trying to rescue it. And they knew that God was with them, even as everything was consumed by fire.
Our hope is everywhere.
It’s in refugees making their way across the sea in search of a better life.
It’s in campaigns for social justice in the Church and in the world.
It’s in people who start as strangers and end up as family.
It’s in Christians and Muslims and Jews coming together in friendship and peace.
It’s in people who stand up against violence, against racism, against the abuse of the vulnerable, against homophobia, against gender inequality and transphobia, against economic injustice, against climate change.
It’s in the blue light that comes with paramedics and firefighters, burning away the darkness.
And, yes, hope is in the people of Paris standing vigil with their cathedral.
Today our light and our joy and our reason for being is gone.
But here we still are.
Because you can’t kill hope.
And because that young upstart carpenter from Galilee who said he was going to change the world?
Well, there’s still a world here, and it still needs changing. A world that still needs to hear that cry of radical love and justice that is also the Gospel truth. A world that needs to be told that hope is not, was not, can never be dead.
A world that has been entrusted to us.
Christ has no body now but yours.