What do you say about the Saturday before Easter? To the first followers of Jesus it was supposed to be Sabbath, a day of rest, and Shalom, a day of peace.
Sometimes rest and peace come with stillness and silence. But the stillness and silence of Holy Saturday are anything but restful and peaceful.
You kind of know what to do the day that someone dies. You have responsibilities and defined things to do. You call family to let them know. You start to make arrangements with the funeral home. You let your church know that you’ve had a death in the family. You greet friends at the door. You laugh. You cry. You plan for the coming days.
But sometime on the second day, even though you still have much to do, there’s a moment when stillness and silence creep in—a moment when for the first time you feel profoundly alone, even abandoned. A moment when you’re no longer “doing” and you’re forced to face “being” without the one you’ve lost.
In that moment the silence is deafening, the stillness suffocating. They combine to produce a kind of intimate terror that words don’t quite describe, and you’re not sure how you’ll go on.
That’s the feeling of Holy Saturday. In the silent stillness, we’re not sure if Good Friday was yesterday or a thousand years ago. Those final moments of suffering and pain—and our pain, too—have faded to an empty numbness.
Today we experience God’s absence; a quiet emptiness shrouds the day. It might be one of the most familiar feelings of Holy Week—the feeling that comes in the moments after loss before we’re sure what happens next.
For those whose own lives are in that in-between space right now, today can be a profound reminder that you are not alone.
On Holy Saturday, we remember that God has endured the in-between before us.
On Holy Saturday, we remember that God experiences loss with us.
On Holy Saturday, we remember that Jesus’ first followers spent today planning a funeral.
On Holy Saturday, we remember that silence, stillness, emptiness, and numbness are real and powerful and honest feelings—and that God enters into them for us.
But Holy Saturday isn’t all about emptiness. Sometime on Holy Saturday our thoughts begin to turn toward hope and possibility—toward a new realization that life does go on—that loss and grief and pain will not define us forever—toward a comforting sense of resolve that washes over us like a wave.
On Holy Saturday we remember that sometimes burial spices go unused.
Sometime on Holy Saturday, we smile at the unforeseen wisdom of only “borrowing” a tomb.
Sometime on Holy Saturday, in the soft glow of the evening sun, our thoughts turn toward newness and resurrection–
and we remember that joy comes in the morning.