Becoming Chris Kamalski

"There's a Writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us" ~Don Miller

Holy Saturday: 1000 Words Edition.

When Grief Grips Your Throat
When Grief Grips Your Throat.
Chris Gollon was commissioned by St. John on Bethnal Green in East London to create a modern interpretation of the Stations of the Cross beginning in 2001.  His surrealist approach to the tradition 14 stations invokes an emotive response that I have never before seen within the traditionally stoic, distant, almost lifeless Stations that most churches typically employ.  In a future Holy Week, I wish to elaborate upon these 14 Stations, but for now, ponder Station 14: Jesus Is Laid In The Sepulchre.  
Alone in a sea of endless graves.  A typical Soshanguve Saturday morning at the cemetery.
Alone in a sea of endless graves. A typical Soshanguve Saturday morning at the cemetery.

A Gospel Reading

It was the Day of Preparation, and to avoid the bodies’ remaining on the cross during the Sabbath—since that Sabbath was a day of special solemnity—the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away.  Consequently the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with him and then of the other.  When they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so instead of breaking his legs, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water.  This is the evidence of one who saw it—true evidence, and he knows that what he says is true—and he gives it so that you may believe as well.  Because all this happened to fulfill the words of scripture: Not one bone of his will be broken; and again, in another place scripture says: they will look to the one whom they have pierced.  After this, Joseph of Arimathaea, who was a disciple of Jesus—though a secret one because he was afraid of the Jews—asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus.  Pilate gave permission, so they came and took it away.  Nicodemus came as well—the same one who had first come to Jesus at night-time—and he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds.  They took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, following the Jewish burial custom.  At the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in this garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been buried.  Since it was the Jewish Day of Preparation and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.  (John 19:31-42, NJB)

Symbolic of a future reality.  Soshanguve.

Symbolic of a future reality. Soshanguve.

A Harrowing Picture From Ryan Sharp
It was the darkest, coldest, longest, most hopeless night of the year. The Revolution has failed. Oh my God, he was executed. He’s dead. We’ve been huddled up, trying to figure out what’s next. Where do we go? What do we do? Was it all a lie? If this “Better Way” got him killed, then what about for us? Where do we go? What do we do? Oh my God, he’s dead.

Good Friday.

"Bowing his head, he gave up his spirit."


"Bowing his head, he gave up his spirit."


A Gospel Reading

Pilate then had Jesus taken away and scourged; and after this, the soldiers twisted some thorns into a crown and put it on his head and dressed him in a purple robe.  They kept coming up to him and saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and slapping him in the face.  Pilate came outside again and said to them, ‘Look, I am going to bring him out to you to let you see that I find no case against him.’  The chief priests and the guards shouted, ‘Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!’  Pilate said, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him: I find no case against him.’  The Jews replied, ‘We have a Law, and according to that Law he ought to be put to death, because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’…They (the soldiers) then took charge of Jesus, and carrying his own cross he went out to the Place of the Skull, or as it is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified him with two others, one on either side, Jesus being in the middle…When the soldiers had finished crucifying Jesus they took his clothing and divided it into four shares, one for each soldier.  His undergarment was seamless, woven in one piece from neck to hem; so they said to one another, ‘Instead of tearing it, let’s throw dice to decide who is to have it.’  In this way the words of Scripture were fulfilled: ‘They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothes.’  That is what the soldiers did.  Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary of Magdela.  Seeing his mother and the disciples whom he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son.’  Then to the disciple he said, ‘This is your mother.’  And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.  After this, Jesus knew that everything had now been completed and, so that the scripture should be completely fulfilled, he said: ‘I am thirsty.’  A jar full of wine stood there, so putting a sponge in the wine on a hyssop stick, they held it up to his mouth.  After Jesus had taken the wine, he said, ‘It is fulfilled’; and bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.                     (John 19:1ff, NJB).

If it is possible (?), I feel at this moment that too many words have been loosely thrown around about this pivotal, epochal, historical hinge point in human existence.  What to write about such a moment?  How do you adequately describe the “Restorer of All Things” desperately breathing his last few gulps of air?  Of eternity beginning to be set right again?  Of He, the First Fruit, dying in our place, so that ultimately we may live?

If anything, less is more with Good Friday.

In a spirit of reverence, I ask you to join with our community (who will have sung these famous lines at the start of our Good Friday gathering), in letting Isaac Watts gift us with his tune during these hours:

When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down.  Did ever such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.  

(Isaac Watts, When I Survey The Wondrous Cross)

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