A Holy Saturday
On what has been traditionally called Holy Saturday or Silent Saturday, there is a space between what was and what will be.
Before Friday, for the followers of Jesus, including his mother, life was filled with hope and promise and expectation. At the very least, there was a sense of normalcy. Normal routines and normal rhythms of life and faith served as a foundation for how life was experienced.
And then, Friday, a day when all hopes and dreams were dashed. The Messiah, the One would make life good and holy and right, was killed in the cruelest of ways, on a cross, beaten, tortured, naked for all the world to see. Our modern, sanitized depictions of the cross do not do justice to the shame that was poured out upon Jesus.
And now, on Saturday, we are left holding a crown of thorns and wondering what is going on. Conspiracy theories abound, both from those who killed Jesus (they were worried that the followers of Jesus would come and steal the body, cf. Matthew 27:62-65) and likely among His followers. “I knew the Romans would take from us what we hold most dear. They have been doing that for years.” So, the disciples sequestered, huddled together in confusion, doubt, and despair. We know from the two followers who went back home to Emmaus (Luke 24) that even though they had heard Jesus say he would be resurrected and there was testimony from an angel, they were done.
So, we sit, holding a crown of thorns. The thorns have blood on them, remnants of a life too soon gone. The thorns are prickly and if we don’t hold them just right, they draw out our blood as well. Everything is uncomfortable. Nothing is normal. The loss seems too much to bear.
And even in this, there is a nudging sense that if we wait, there has to be more to the story. It is so hard to let that possibility rise to the surface. In some ways, we don’t want to embrace it. We’d rather sit in our despair. It’s easier.
When seemingly everything to which we’ve held tight has died, how do we wait? How do we move into the next day? How do we not take the wine that Jesus refused on the cross and drink ourselves into numbness? Saturday is an opportunity to feel what we feel and also believe that just maybe there is more to the story. Both are important. Both are real.
In many ways, in our world today, we are between what was and what will be. For many, we’ve experienced pain and confusion and loss. All of the “normal” has been turned upside down, things as significant as gathering with others or the less significant but comforting beginning of a baseball season. We have wondered about conspiracy theories. We are inundated with voices giving us so much data. We’ve also tasted, perhaps, some beauty and that nudging sense that maybe there is something even more beautiful on the other side.
Consider these words,
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
How might you look to the “unseen” things even as you grieve the losses? Are there “normal” things in life that you can let die so that you might find something more beautiful? That is the hope of resurrection and that is the only way we’ll make it through Saturday and be prepared to receive the gifts of Sunday.
Maybe, just maybe, we will find that all which is truly significant can never be lost, no matter the circumstance. We might be separated from so much but that which is the essence of life can never be lost. (Romans 8:37-39)