At the Easter Vigil, people will gather after sunset and stand with candles in the dark. They will sing the Litany of the Saints. They will call the names of the dead and ask them, "Pray for us." It's a call for help: we aren't enough on our own. It's a profession of love: we don't want to be without you. It's a statement of faith: we know that you are not lost.
There at the tipping point between Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, between darkness and light, decay and rebirth, abandonment and adoption, people will gather together in faith that it's about to get better. People will gather in faith that God changes everything. They will read each other the story of how God threw God's own self down from Heaven, took on a messy, breakable human life, and set to work rescuing us.
The story of how Christ chose the rough and loudmouthed and greedy to spread his way of gentleness and meekness and contentment.
The story of how Christ saw that
our Scripture and Laws needed to be cleaned like an old rug, and he brought
them out into the light and beat the grit and the bugs out of them, and
gave them back to us bright and beautiful and useful.
The story of how Christ looked at things they way they are, and it made him cry.
The story of how Christ loved us so much that he became one of us. And how it didn't work out.
Just like it doesn't work out for us.
And it had a sad ending.
Just like our stories do.
But after the ending, the story kept going. How strange is that? The God who left us showed up and promised that he would never leave. It's not a story with a happy ending-- it's a story that doesn't end.
So every year we loop back around, following the cycle of promise, of birth, of ministry, of betrayal, of death, and of resurrection. Somewhere in there, we believe, the world is getting fixed. Somehow, we believe, our loop of birth and death gets broken and straightened out, and the lost are found, and the hungry are full, and the people who were gone so long before we were born are right next to us.
Someday, Saturday tips over into Sunday and we never go back.