Wow,it has been a month since my last post. So much excitement, so much theologizing, so little time. However, it is reading week, so time is available, and Holy Week was last week, so as part of my celebration, I wrote a brief meditation on the often overlooked, Holy Saturday. Peace, D
Sometimes life sucks. This is a reality that is all too apparent today. For many people, these are days of financial uncertainty and job insecurity. For others it is a failing relationship, or a lack thereof. Still others have to deal with the burdens of poverty, homelessness, war, famine, and drought. In North Carolina last weekend many people died as the result of the tornados which devastated homes and communities. In light of all of these things, the reality that life sucks is all too apparent. It is fitting therefore that we reflect on these things on Holy Saturday.
For many churches, Holy Saturday is a day of Egg hunts and festive games as the congregation gets excited for Easter Sunday. Dresses get chosen, baskets get filled, and families go to bed early to get up with the sunrise. This, however, is not what Holy Saturday is all about. Holy Saturday is the in-between. It is the day which marks that time between trauma and recovery. On Saturday, the followers of Christ were searching for places of hiding, not plastic eggs. The family of Jesus and his disciples did not go to bed early, in fact, I would be surprised if, in their grief and shock, they went to bed at all. Holy Saturday was a day when those around Jesus began to process the trauma of his death on the cross.
Trauma is an interesting word. In my Virtue and Virility class last week, we talked about trauma. Dr. Warren Kinghorn, a Psychiatrist and Theologian (there is a combination!), talked about how trauma is an affront to our expected reality. What the disciples expected as they saw their friend being paraded to a chorus of Hosannas earlier in the week was not the reception he received in court of Pilate. The disciples dreams of Jesus defeating the Roman Empire and restoring the Kingdom of God in Israel were all upturned when they saw their messiah cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In that moment, it was them who felt forsaken. It was their future dreams and desires which were crucified along with their friend and teacher. This is trauma.
But as the soldiers took down Jesus’ body from the cross and handed it to Joseph of Arimathea who then put it in his tomb, the disciples had to go on. The hardest part of experiencing a trauma is that life goes on. When your mind is stuck in that moment where everything you thought you knew is pulled out from underneath you, life goes on. We are forced to move on. This is the beauty of time; it keeps going. The liturgical year marks this time for us. Between the celebrations of Good Friday and Easter lies a 24 hour period which the Church calls Holy. It is time set apart, sanctified space for the pain and confusion that follows a trauma. So often we rush from Friday to Sunday. Holy Saturday makes us stop. We are forced to confront those feelings of loss, the sharp sting of death. Holy Satuday is the Church’s way of reminding us that pain and confusion are within the life of Christ. When we are confronted with the pain of life, no matter the size, we need to remember that the struggle we confront and the pain we feel are both natural and accepted. Our feeling of loss and confusion are an integral part of the story of Christ’s saving work for us. To tell the story of Easter, without that pain is to tell only half of the story. To tell the stories of our lives without the pain and suffering is to tell only part of our lives as well.
We need Holy Satudrday, but we need it only in its place. In Holy Week, we are given a day of pain, a day of confusion, and 2 Days of celebration and triumph which bracket the week. For all of its importance, Saturday is only 24 hours. To wallow in our grief and pain for too long is to fail to trust that God is in control and that God is pulling all things toward resolution in God’s time. So, while we sit and meditate on the in-between stage of Saturday the joy of Sunday is on the horizon calling us forth from our brokenness and seeking to restore us to newness of life. Amen.