Many will remember that classic refrain of the church that shouts a word of defiance when some “Friday” has done its worst: Sunday’s coming. What that means, of course, is that the church knows and proclaims the truth of what God has power to do. With death-defeating power, the God of life can turn even the worst Friday upside down, as God did in raising Jesus on the third day–on Sunday–the day that is surely coming.
While the truth of that story runs deep in our veins, we also know the companion truth: “Fridays” still sting. When someone we love dies; when a child faces surgery; when a family struggles to make ends meet–in myriad ways and places–“Friday” keeps tormenting people, and we wake up in a world where death seems to have the upper hand, where nothing seems to be happening, where even our most fervent prayers seem to go unheard.
Looking back to that first Easter weekend may help us to reframe our experience in a helpful way. Thinking about that first Friday-Saturday-Sunday cycle can remind us of what “Friday” too often causes us to forget.
Jesus was crucified on a Friday, and some have described it as the day that human hope died. Not only was Jesus’ body sealed away in the tomb, so were the hopes and dreams of countless followers who had believed to the depths of their beings that this was the promised one of God. They had believed that Jesus was the one who would set things right, who would bring justice and wholeness and peace. When he died, it was as if everything crashed down upon those followers.
When they woke up on Saturday, then, it was the day after the worst that could have happened. They had no way of knowing what Sunday would hold. They were simply left with the reality that Friday had done its worst, and death had thwarted God’s desires.
Then Easter dawned. Then came Sunday. If Friday was the worst day, Sunday was the best. It was the day when hope was reborn–when the followers of Jesus sensed that God could overturn anything–even death–and that the world was now teeming with life and possibility.
Saturday, then, became not just the day after the worst day that could have happened. It also became the day before the best day. No longer seen as a day when nothing happened, Saturday became the day of expectant waiting for God’s glorious Sunday to come.
Here’s what the church knows: death is not the final word. Though Friday may break with agonizing power, it is not the last day. Though it may seem as if Saturday is a day when nothing is happening, we know that God is even then at work, stalking the grave’s power and seeking to give life.
And then Sunday dawns and we find ourselves belting out our “alleluias” because we see how God has been at work to Easter us–to make us new–and to bring this world–and us along with it–to fullness of life.
Though it never comes easily and seldom as quickly as we may wish, we know the truth: Sunday’s coming.