Holy Saturday (Part 1)
Ever since joining the Presbyterian church I’ve had opportunity to appreciate and grow to value various days in the Christian calendar and life of the disciples. While remembering Good Friday, and of course, always remembering and celebrating Easter, I never knew much about Lent, Holy Week, Maundy Thursday or Holy Saturday. The last few years,
God has been deepening my understanding of Holy Saturday in ways that are rich beyond measure but also painful. Isn’t that usually how it goes? Richness comes through pain?
Holy Saturday is the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It is the day that some churches actually have an Easter service and celebrate the Resurrection (don’t get me started, I do have a few soapboxes). It is the day that if we really don’t know what to do with. Good Friday, Jesus died. Easter Sunday, Jesus rose from the dead. What do we do with Saturday? Typically we gloss over Good Friday even, go through Saturday as usual and are excited about Easter morning, the celebration the Resurrection. The Resurrection is rich in and of itself but I have found that it is richer and deeper after engaging Good Friday and Holy Saturday (and even Maundy Thursday, Holy Week, Lent, etc). We’ll focus on Holy Saturday.
Let me offer a different viewpoint of Holy Saturday. First of all, it is not Resurrection day. We do not celebrate the Resurrection on Holy Saturday. Jesus was not resurrected on the 2nd day, He was resurrected on the 3rd. Secondly, it is not Good Friday, it is not the day of crucifixion where the disciples (both men and women) witnessed their hope and dreams die. Thirdly, it is not a day we just “get through” or do whatever until Easter. Holy Saturday is the day between death and resurrection and if we sit to consider it for a few moments, we realize the richness and depth of it and the fact that Holy Saturday is a theme in life just like Good Friday and Easter are.
Holy Saturday is the day of waiting, the unknown, of grieving, of resting (it was the Sabbath – Luke 23:56), of repeating the death scene in minds/hearts, of being tempted to run away from the pain, of actual running away, of uncertainty, of questions, of unclear hope, of faith that sees generally but cannot see specifics, of blindness to possibility, of shock and pain, of confusion, of great weight. It can be a day of chaos.
Over 2,000 years ago Holy Saturday only lasted one day (for which we are all grateful). As one reads Luke’s account of Holy Saturday (Luke 23:5-24:1) one watches Joseph of Arimathea engaging in Good Friday and into Holy Saturday by asking for Jesus’ messy, bloody, still warm body that is dead. He sets it to rest – honoring it. (There is silence about the rest of the disciples in this specific passage.) You watch the women from a distance going home, preparing spices for caring for his body and willing to go back to the cold and and stiffness of death. Bewteen preparing the spices and perfumes and going back to where Jesus was laid, the women rested, in obedience to the commandment of the Sabbath. How could they REST when they just watched Jesus DIE? Their hopes and dreams of who Jesus was were gone, yet they had been told a bit about what would come. What they envisioned had died and the person had died, but there was still a general, fuzzy, unspecific hope.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t rest well in the middle of pain, confusion, unknowns. When life has thrown me a curveball or my expectations or dreams have been dashed, I typically don’t want to sit like the women did on Holy Saturday and wait. I typically want to take care of things and fix things. I want to move forward, I definitely do not want to stop and I definitely do not want to rest. I do not even know what that rest is supposed to look like? Maybe it’s trust, maybe it’s for me to cease striving. What is it in me that runs from rest? The Sabbath is made for man so why do we not receive this time as a time for rest? What is our compulsion to go and do rather than engage God in rest? Maybe this is one of the reasons why our churches gloss over Holy Saturday? We simply do not like it and we really do not know what to do with it.
In our own lives we have many “Holy Saturdays”. Often they last longer than a day. Often we do not want to rest and cease our striving.
Holy Saturday – think about it, consider it and try practicing it this coming year.