Matthew 28:1-10 NRSV
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
“The darkest hour is right before the dawn.” This is a common trope in verse, literature and song. Grounded in Christ’s resurrection story, it pleads for hope.
When considering the three theological virtues – faith, hope, and love – it seems that hope gets short shrift. In our Reformed tradition, justification is by grace through faith alone. The Apostle Paul instructs that “the greatest of these is love.” Hope seemingly lurks in the background, a poor cousin of the virtue trilogy. That is, until we need it. And today we need it.
Holy Saturday is the darkest hour of our Christian calendar, yet the most hopeful hour. It reminds us in times of great need that Christ’s resurrection is the greatest hope for all of God’s creation. In his “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. counseled: “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.” King feared for his life every day. King feared for the safety of his fellow leaders and his flock. King feared that America was unwilling or unable to fulfill its promise of freedom and liberty for all. Yet, it was a dream, an imagination of Christian hope that sustained him until the day he died.
In darkness, dare to dream. And let the promise of the resurrection dawn fill you with hope.
In Christ’s darkest hour
Was born the light of resurrection promise.
Give us strength to shine Christ’s light,
To overcome despair with hope,
To live into the promise of tomorrow.