Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Beginning and the End

Traditionally, we've put Sunday at the beginning of the week to commemorate the rising of our Savior. The Gospel says "on the first day of the week," the women went to put spices at Jesus' tomb and were astounded to find the stone rolled away. There are sons of God, robed in the light of the Lord, seated on the giant boulder. I always like to imagine their feet kicking in the air like kids on too-tall McDonald's seats. Mary, eyes blurred with tears, recognizes Jesus when he says her name. All this happens on a Sunday - the first day of the week. So we remember.

But God rested from his work on the seventh, the last day. The last day was the one set aside to recollect, to meditate, to breathe deeply. So, the Jews rested on the last day of the week. This causes minute rifts in the Body of believers. Some say this, some argue that. Some recall the pagan namesakes of the days - Saturn and the Sun. That's neither here nor there. I have grown up going to church at the beginning of the week (Sunday, according to every calendar I've ever seen, save one). I've gone to church on Saturday nights as well, relishing the late, sun-strewn mornings and big lazy breakfasts with my girls on Sunday.

This also is neither here nor there.

However, I do enjoy the idea of viewing that big family gathering as the end of the week. Usually, seeing it as the beginning, I associate it with unwieldy metaphors of putting gas in my spiritual car tank, preparing me for the long weekly slog through mires not peopled with the sons of God. Then I come to Friday and need either a pick-me-up or a cigarette, though I don't smoke. Maybe there's credence for this idea: the great sending-off, the broken champagne bottle and the bon voyage. Even so, the idea of that messy, raucous, delightful family meeting as the end of the week, the final gathering at the Grey Havens, holds great appeal for me. I strive through the week, looking forward with anticipation to when I will be amongst a host of Kingdom people, all surrounded by a cloud of witnesses like brilliant heat waves in the drab February air. Finally, I am amongst others who do not belong, who come from a country into which we shall one day set our feet, seeing on the horizon a city with high, open gates. Ah, the end of the week. Welcome to the feast.

It is preparation for the last and greatest Feast, the one that is ever-renewed, ever-lived. This too, is a sending-off.


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