Holy Saturday 2013
We had a funeral today for one of the saints of our congregation. It was very fitting that we came together to celebrate Esther’s life and God’s presence in it. This was her church, and we are her extended family, so it’s good that we were here. But more than that; it’s good that we gathered here today.
Yesterday was Good Friday, a day full of death and despair. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, a day full of resurrection and hope. Today is the day in-between death and resurrection: a day of promise.
By faith, we live our entire lives on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In the pain of living life on this day, it would be easy to rush past it to get to Easter; literally, on this particular weekend, but also symbolically, by focusing simply on our eternal relationship with God to the detriment of our temporal relationships with family, friends and the community God calls us to serve.
We do well to slow down; to embrace today, to resist rushing through the reality that is part of our earthly existence. Author N.T. Wright puts it succinctly when he writes,
After Good Friday comes Holy Saturday, the day of waiting, waiting without hope, without knowing what will come next. Go down deep into Holy Saturday, because you are called away from the public arena – extroverts in particular find this hard – and into the stillness where you don’t understand, you don’t have an agenda to work on, you don’t know what it is you want or expect God to do. – N.T. Wright.
What the future holds on Easter Sunday is at best only partially known. The women who went to the tomb had heard Jesus’ predictions of his death and resurrection, and yet they went to the tomb expecting to find a body whose burial preparations they could finish. We have heard the same predictions about Jesus and the future of a life of faith, and yet we stumble and bumble our way through it.
The good news, though, is that Jesus is walking with us through our stumbling and bumbling; at most, only a step or two ahead of us. Guiding us. Loving us. Correcting us when necessary. And taking upon himself our failures and brokenness so that we might be whole.
One of my favorite Easter hymns expresses it best:
Now the green blade rises from the buried grain, wheat that in dark earth many days has lain; love lives again, that with the dead has been; love is come again like wheat arising green.
When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain, your touch can call us back to life again, fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been; love is come again like wheat arising green.