Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Reflection for Holy Saturday

Today is the last day of Lent. From Ash Wednesday, through the first five Sundays, and through all the special services of Holy Week, it is now Holy Saturday.

A little later this morning, I will go to the church. For the church staff, today is the day of preparation for our Easter Sunday celebration. Extra staff from all departments will be on duty. We have decorations to hang, flowers to arrange, food service tables and sound and music equipment to set, and of course our custodial team will be busy with all their usual Saturday tasks of cleaning the pews and bathrooms and so on.

I always feel like I am cheating a little bit, though, getting to see the church decorated before it is actually Easter Sunday. There is no getting around the historical fact that there was a day between the crucifixion and resurrection. Some traditions refer to this day as Silent Saturday.

Growing up, this day had a somewhat unsettled feeling for me. I always struggled to know what to do with this day. When I was living with my parents, if my family was hosting the extended family for Easter brunch, I would have my share of household cleaning to do. But, even knowing the next day was one of celebration, the day never seemed to have any real sense of purpose or direction to me. Even today, I feel a sense of disorientation, of melancholy.

It makes me reflect on what the disciples of Jesus were feeling on that first Silent Saturday. For them, it was the Jewish Sabbath, so already a day of comparatively less on their schedules. After the tragedy of the previous day, I imagine most of them spent the day in silence, whether by themselves or with some of the others. Perhaps a subdued meal, though I imagine none had much of an appetite. Lots of staring into space, or aimlessly wandering through Jerusalem or the surrounding countryside.

And of course, they did not realize what was coming the next day. Their grief was total and consuming. I would not be surprised if they were also angry, angry at God, angry at the perceived crushing of their hopes and dreams that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

And after a long day of mostly nothing, I am sure they all went to bed thinking the next day would be more of the same. More deep sadness. More feeling aimless and disoriented, as if life had lost its purpose and meaning.

But at dawn, their lives, and the world, would change completely and thoroughly.

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who lies and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
(The Collect for Holy Saturday)

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