Holy Saturday – 4/11/2020 – St. Paul’s
Because most people focus on Easter after Good Friday,most people will ignore and skip the Church’s remembrance of Holy Saturday. No one, however, gets to ignore and skip the reality of Holy Saturday in life. Holy Saturday is the in between time. The tragedy of the crucifixion is past but the glories of the resurrection are not yet here. We are neither here nor there. We are stuck in the middle. What was is no more and what will be is not yet clear or known. It feels as if there is no where to go and nothing to do.
Holy Saturday comes to us in many ways but it always seems to involve death; the death of Jesus, the death of a loved one, the death of a relationship, the death of hopes and dreams, the many effects of the Coronavirus. In the church calendar Holy Saturday is one day once per year. Not so in life. Those of you who have suffered the death of a loved one know that you do not move from Good Friday to Easter Sunday in just one day. Holy Saturday can last months, years, even a lifetime. Holy Saturday calls us to the tomb. Where else is there to go?
And in the Hebrew Scripture reading from Job, we are faced with Job’s question… If mortals die, will they live again? It’s a Holy Saturday kind of question. It’s a question all of us ask on the Holy Saturdays of our lives.
Jesus was crucified, killed, yesterday. His body was placed in a tomb. A great stone was placed over the entrance. The woman sit opposite the tomb. They do nothing. They say nothing. They just sit. Then comes the next day, Holy Saturday, and the tomb is sealed, guarded, and made secure. (Matthew 27:57-66)
Holy Saturday, however, is not only a day on the liturgical calendar, it is also a reality experienced in each of our lives. That’s how liturgy works. It reflects and images back to us the reality of our lives. On the calendar Holy Saturday is the next day, the day after Good Friday. In life Holy Saturday is also the next day, the day after.
It is the day after the funeral.
It is the day after the body has been buried.
It is the day after the relationship ended.
It is the day after the dream was shattered.
It is the day after we tried and failed.
It is the day after the diagnosis.
It is the day after the tragedy.
It’s the day after we admitted our life was a mess.
It is the day after we realized life is not going the way we planned or intended.
It is the day after we made the wrong decision.
It is the day after our life was forever changed in ways we neither asked for or nor wanted.
It is everything which we are experiencing because of COVID-19.
Holy Saturday is the day after. It’s a day of silence, stillness, and waiting. There’s not much to say or do on Holy Saturday. The tomb has been made secure and the only thing certain is that things have changed and something has been lost. Holy Saturday is a day of not knowing. There are no answers; only a question, Job’s question. “If mortals die, will they live again?”
On Holy Saturday we want to know what’s next or if there will even be a next. Is the tomb the end? We want to know if there is life after this loss. Is there life after Holy Saturday? Holy Saturday is a day of tears and prayers. Where is God? Where is Jesus on Holy Saturday? “If mortals die, will they live again?”
Holy Saturday is not a day for answers. It is a threshold day, a day that lies between, and so resists any easy certainty. It is a day of waiting, of remembering to breathe, of willing ourselves to turn to one another when grief lays hold of us. It is a day to open ourselves to the one who goes into the places of deepest pain and darkest fear, in order to bring us out.
Holy Saturday is a day of silence and stillness, waiting and wondering, remembering and hoping. Perhaps that is what faithfulness looks like on Holy Saturday. There is not much to do except be present to the reality of what is, to sit opposite the tomb.
We so much want joy to replace sorrow. That’s not what Jesus does. Instead, sorrow is transformed into joy, the tomb becomes a womb, and death gives birth to new life. Christ’s triumph is not apart from death but within death. Christ is trampling down death by death and giving life to those in the tombs.
The two women of Holy Saturday will become the first people Jesus greets on Easter Sunday. So trust the silence and the waiting. Be still. Remember, wonder, hope. Pray. It is Holy Saturday and your Lord who loves you is at work. AMEN+