West Franklin Family,

A year ago today I sent you a letter about Grace on Holy Saturday. I actually wrote the following sentences: “Maybe it’s because this COVID-19 thing is making me crazy. Maybe this quarantine is finally taking its toll.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Barely a month into the pandemic I was talking about going crazy! I declared words such as “Maybe this quarantine is finally taking its toll.” As if it was almost over!?!?!?! Good grief. Help me Jesus. I remember how shocked I was to learn we would not be meeting in person on Easter. I remember thinking, “When we are back together for Mother’s Day, it will be so exciting!” Oh my.

Here we are. A. YEAR. LATER. And we are still reeling from this pandemic. The pews are still marked off for 50% capacity. Masks are still being worn. It was only three short months ago we digressed to on-line only AGAIN due to the post-Thanksgiving, Christmas holiday spike in cases. I cannot even begin to count how many times I have uttered the words, “If you would have told me __________ (fill in the blank with everything you can think of that the pandemic impacted) I wouldn’t have believed you!” I still say it. If you would have told me we would need to have five services – two on Saturday – due to COVID-19 protocol capacity purposes on Easter weekend 2021 – I wouldn’t have believed you.

Do you know why I couldn’t have believed so many things that happened this year? Because I don’t control the narrative. I don’t know the future. I can’t predict it. As much as I try. As much as I think I have it all planned out. I don’t. I can’t.

I just thought I was going crazy April 2020.

I just thought the quarantine was taking its toll three weeks in.

I just thought we would be all together – singing, laughing, eating, worshipping together by Mother’s Day of last year.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Laughable.

I wonder what Jesus’ followers were thinking that Saturday morning after the death of their Lord? They probably wondered, “What now?” They probably said, “We had hoped. . . ” They probably felt ridiculous. Stupid. Helpless. They probably started making plans to adjust to their new normal. They probably assumed it was all over and now were forced to rewrite the trajectory of their lives. They probably did what we all do: take back control of our lives and assume we have the next phase figured out.

I can tell you what they didn’t do: they didn’t expect a resurrection. They didn’t expect an empty tomb. They didn’t expect to be searching for the living among the dead. They were starting to plan life with a dead Jesus. They thought they knew how the story would unfold. But, hallelujah, they were wrong.

If the twelve months between these Holy Saturdays have taught us anything, it is this: We do not know, nor can we begin to think we have control over our circumstances. But if actual Holy Saturday – the day 2,000 years ago between the death and resurrection of Jesus – teaches us anything, it is that the future is greater than we could ever imagine. Holy Saturday teaches us that, regardless of where our future takes us, the living Jesus will be with us. The living Jesus is in control. The living Jesus is writing the narrative. His narrative. Wherever we are, He is. Wherever He is, we are.

Perhaps a year into this mess and you are actually going crazy. Perhaps a year in and it is actually taking its toll. Perhaps this year has felt like one long Holy Saturday with Jesus in the tomb. I don’t know. But I can promise this: He is out of the tomb now. Sin and guilt and shame and mess have been put to death. Conquered. You are free. Jesus is alive. He summons you to Himself. Pandemic or not. Mask or not. Vaccine or not. Socially distanced or not. He is there. Darkness never has the last word. Because He is alive, wherever you are and whatever is before you – He is there. Look for Him. Join Him. Joyfully submit yourself to His loving and gracious rule. We don’t know tomorrow. But He does. He’ll be there.

I cannot wait to see you tonight or in the morning to celebrate the resurrected Jesus. I’ll have my Bible open to Luke 24:1-12.

Because He Lives,

Pastor Matt