The Mormon church has a lay clergy, so members of the congregation take turns delivering sermons on Sundays. I was asked to speak last Easter, which I did with some difficulty. Here is a short excerpt. Happy Easter.
Christ was crucified on a Friday and on Sunday morning, his tomb was found empty. There is a space between death and the resurrection, and for Christ this was Saturday. We cannot yet follow Christ to the place where he spent that day, to spirit paradise. Instead, I want to talk about how Christ’s disciples might have spent this day. It is on this Saturday that death was real and resurrection was only a hope. It is pretty clear from the scriptures that Christ’s disciples had a limited understanding of the resurrection, probably much like ours, and on Saturday I’m sure they grieved the loss of their Lord and Savior.
Many – maybe most – of us will spend time during our lives as the disciples did, separated by death from someone we love. I don’t know why it is, but it seems to be that an important part of our probationary period for many of us will be to spend part of our lives without some of the people we love most.
Saturday – this period of time when death is real and the resurrection is a hope – is hard. This is where it can feel like the resurrection and its glorious promise falls short. When Mat first died, I tried to sell my kids on the promise of the resurrection and it really didn’t work. One night we were trying to have a family home evening, and Colin said, “I want Dad.” I tried to make him feel better by telling him that we’re still a family, and that dad still loves him, and maybe he was even here with us, or could see what we were doing, and he said, “I want dad!” And I tried to talk more about how we’re going to see him someday, and he said “I WANT DAD RIGHT NOW!” And he is right. This is hard, and there is no getting around that.
1 Corinthians 15:55 says: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Death has no sting? Actually, I feel pretty stung by death. The scripture quoted by itself is taken out of context. If you read the previous verse, you will notice that there is a qualifier: “… When this corruptible [body] shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
D&C 42:45 instructs us to feel sad, saying: “live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die…”
Saturday is long, but eventually it will be Sunday, the day of the glorious resurrection. On that day we will be redeemed. That the resurrection is real is my hope and my testimony.