There is a silent scream that comes when all you have loved, all you’ve believed in, all you knew to be true and constant in life - when all is suddenly gone. Stripped away. There are no words. There is no meaning. There is no light.
This is what Holy Saturday is.
It was back in 1993 that this day became woven into the fabric of my faith. That year was my first Holy Week working with folks who were living and dying with HIV/AIDS. It was that spring when I first understood the depth and aching of this day. Since then I have come to love and appreciate and be grateful for it. I know that might sound funny, but it's true.
Holy Saturday is the day every year when hope was lost. Jesus had died. His friends and followers had witnessed it or heard of it. He had been betrayed, arrested, and crucified on a cross. How could they feel anything but desperation and deep grief? Holy Saturday is the day that when Love appeared to be lost and gone. This is the day when nothing makes sense at all.
I can only imagine those early believers. When the sun came up on the day after Jesus was crucified, how did they get out of bed? How did they eat? Could they speak? Could they sing? Could they pray? How in God’s name did they go on?
We know about those days, you and I. We have lived through those days when the rug has been pulled out from under us. Thinking about those early believers and how they somehow kept their faith is amazing. How did they do it? Everything that they thought would be true, was gone. All that Jesus had talked about seemed somehow to be tied to him, the person. And now he was gone. They had seen him die.
My prayers feel authentic on this day. Bare-bones words of fear and anger and hope and faith have a resting place in all that Holy Saturday represents. There’s no flowery, sugar-coated, Hollywood produced anything about these prayers. Jesus had been crucified. Teacher, Rabbi, healer, friend. Love had died. Holy Saturday-prayers reside in the very worst moments of our lives.
And somehow, somehow, they went on. And somehow, those early followers believed. And because they had the courage and grounding and love in them, they got out of bed the next day. And because of those women and men, steps have been left for us to follow when we are living our Holy Saturdays.
This is one of the few days on the Christian calendar that hasn’t yet been Hallmarked. The shelves at Target aren’t lined with things to buy. Instead this is a day to revisit, re-collect, rename, reclaim our faith. It’s not something that can be packaged and wrapped up with a bow. Our faith is what we cling to when everything is dark, when we run out of knowing. It is that seeing-in-the-dark faith that can lead us. It’s as true and as impossible as that.
This Holy Saturday is the day that teaches us that even when we are sure Love has died – we’re sure because we witnessed it ourselves – this is the day the holds us close. This is the day that sings to us in the dark. This is the day when we are given strength and hope enough to believe that the sun rose this morning and will again tomorrow.