22 April 2013

Holy Saturday

With each year, Holy Saturday (the day between Good Friday and Easter) seems to become more significant for me. Instead of it simply being the middle day - the day between the two biggest moments in the church year – it has begun to take on an important theological meaning of its own: a day of solidarity with those who do not know hope.

The Bible says very little about Holy Saturday, which I, as a biblical scholar, find a bit distressing. What do I do with this very important day of which the only biblical reference is Matthew’s story of Jesus’ enemies setting up a guard because they remember him saying something about rising in three days? What about the disciples – didn’t they remember that? I imagine not – I expect their initial shock regarding Jesus’ death on Friday had, on Saturday, turned into deep sadness and a loss of hope. Even if we know that Easter always follows on the third day, they couldn’t have known that Saturday was the middle day. For them, Saturday was the first day of the rest of their life without Jesus. It was for them a day of hopelessness.

Seeing Holy Saturday that way pushes us as Christians to give Holy Saturday its own place within the timeline of Easter. It is not a moment to dwell primarily on the wonder of the cross and the even greater wonder of the resurrection, but instead it is a day of loss. It is a day in which we are encouraged to think of those who have known the pain of Good Friday while never knowing the joy and wonder of Easter. Many are stuck in that painful middle day, and it is good for us as Christians to be willing to be present amidst that pain – especially as we have experienced the hope that Easter brings.

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