Sat 19 Apr 2014
It is Holy Saturday here in this old house. This is a day that makes many Protestants nervous. In fact, many are nervous such that they don’t hold or attend services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday; they prefer to go straight from Palm Sunday into Easter, skimming over or ignoring completely the betrayal, crucifixion and entombment of Christ. “It is too depressing,” they say. Yet, how do we learn to grieve well as Christians if we don’t practice it as a faith community?
On this day in the Church, we remember that disciples stayed faithful to the Sabbath Law of their day and stayed home. They must have been tempted to make an exception and run to the tomb to finish the hasty burial they gave Jesus as the sun was setting and the Passover was beginning. I would have! But their spiritual discipline practices were strong enough to hold them through that endless day of grief and confusion such that the women saw the miracle of the Resurrection shortly after it had happened.
I wonder what I have missed in life because I was so busy rationalizing why I didn’t need to keep the disciplined practice I was attempting some self-defined “exceptional moment.”
Many theologians teach that we as Christ-followers are living a kind of Holy Saturday existence, that is, we are living in an in-between or “meanwhile” time between Christ’s Ascension and his Second Coming. When I was a child, I always wondered if God was actually dead on this day. Even today, I find it an odd kind of day. The Holy Week fast is still going on but yet, I am making this old house festive for Easter. Also, I will go to the Easter Vigil tonight and hear again the ancient texts and stories of our faith as we light the first fire of Easter and sing the first Alleluias of the Resurrection.
But right now, it is that in-between time of the day here in this old house. It is similar to many other Holy Saturdays here: the eggs are dyed, the hot cross buns are made,and the fixings for Easter dinner are well under-way. I will also probably take a nap.
This is the day when we remember how Christ rested in the tomb and his exhausted disciples kept the Sabbath. I can’t imagine it was a very refreshing rest for them, though. The question for me today is, can I rest and trust that God is at work in all of the “Good Friday” situations of my life and the world? As I remember the early disciples and conjecture what their Holy Saturday must have been, I confess that I often live in fear and a sense that death is the final word in too many situations and relationships. Too many times, I forget that “Sunday is a-comin’!” This is why I need the lessons of Holy Saturday. I need to remember at least once a year that there is no stone-covered tomb that God cannot blow open from the inside out.
Holy Saturday invites me to live in hope that an Easter dawn continues to rise in all sorts of places that I have consigned to the hopeless dead. God is at work! “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” (1 Corinthians 15: 55)