In the Meantime
It’s Easter Sunday—Alleluia!—and we will certainly tell the resurrection story together again. But if it’s not too much, I’d like to take us back a day to Holy Saturday.
Holy Saturday is in many ways the forgotten day of Holy Week. This isn’t just in our practice; scripture, too, is silent. The gospels take us as far us sundown on Friday when Jesus was laid in the tomb and the rest of his disciples, friends, and loved ones scattered—we’re not sure where. The most we’re told is that after preparing his body with spices and ointment (the women did this, mind you; the men were long gone by this point), “On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
We would rush past this one-sentence summary of what the disciples and friends of Jesus were doing in the time between his death and resurrection, but so much of Easter depends on it.
We long for Easter morning, but most of our lives are spent in Holy Saturday: in the time between loss and new life. In the silence. In the grief. In the waiting for God to reveal what is next, what is new. Because we mark it on our calendars each year we forget that Easter Sunday is the aberration; Holy Saturday is the given. And so it’s Holy Saturday where the church must be.
This is especially true in times immediately after loss. Grief can be paralyzing. As the weight of loss washes over us and we come to realize how much our life has changed, it’s common to struggle with even the most basic tasks: getting out of bed, getting dressed, eating properly. Our world is different now, and we simply don’t know what we should do. One of the gifts of religion is that it provides us with rhythms to fall back on when the music of life has stopped. The rhythm of weekly worship. Of daily devotion. Of opportunities for service. Of a place to come, that has been prepared for us. Of people to meet us there. These holy rhythms are important throughout our days but become essential in times of grief or loss. They provide order when all we feel is chaos, and help us answer that most basic of questions: What do I do now?
For the disciples, as dusk swept over that Holy Friday, the answer they found in their Jewish faith was simple: we keep the Sabbath, remembering the God who rests with us—the God who grieves with us. And then we will rise to meet this new world. Little did they know Jesus would be doing the same.
So we in the church dream of Easter Sunday. We remember when it happened so long ago and long for when it will happen again in our own lives and in the life of the world.
But in the meantime we live together in Holy Saturday, waiting for the promises of God to be revealed.