Christians defend certain days of the Holy Weekend. For instance, we’ll defend the idea that on Friday Jesus dies on a cross to save the world from its sin. Then we’ll turn around and defend Easter Sunday as the day that Jesus actually rose from the grave… But nobody defends Saturday. Nobody writes apologetics defending the belief that Jesus actually lay dead for one long, endless day two thousand years ago. – A.J. Swoboda
This is a big weekend for those of us who are church ministers.
It is a weekend where chances are, no matter what church tradition we are from, our calendar will be filled with extra services and extra sermons and new faces coming to church for the first time. In Holy Week, we remember Maundy Thursday and an upper room where Jesus shares a meal with his friends and shows his love by washing their feet. On Good Friday, we remember the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the cross. On Easter, we celebrate a risen Saviour. But on Holy Saturday, we have a tomb. And the tomb at this point in the story isn’t yet empty.
In many ways “Holy Saturday” is like the Christian life - we live our life with hope, but life is still hard and sometimes God feels silent. An ancient homily for today says, “The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep”.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to pause - to rest - in the goodness of our LORD. Holy Saturday is the kind of day when we might find ourselves praying in the spirit of those lines from Psalm 77. Listen to the psalmist’s honest wrestlings as he prays in what he calls his “distress”.
I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
“Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
Holy Saturday welcomes us to bring questions like these before God in prayer. The Psalmist reminds us that, “joy comes in the morning”.
My hope and prayer for us today is that we pause, embrace, and reflect on Christ’s love and sacrifice for us even as we wait...