As time passes and I move in and through this life of mine, I find that of all the days of the church year, Holy Saturday resonates most. Resonates most strongly and most tenderly. Holds what is true. Holy Saturday lives out for me the strongest, most raw and authentic images of faith, of hope, of love.
Holy Saturday was the day that those early friends and followers of Jesus didn’t give up. It was the day that they got up. If they hadn’t they surely would have missed Sunday’s sunrise.
Good Friday’s story holds the images of those who walked beside him or waited up on the hill where the crucifixion took place. There they watched as the One who embodied Promise slowly, painfully died. And after a time they watched as he was taken down off the cross, wrapped in a cloth and carried away to a tomb.
I can only image how long they stayed on that hillside. I can only image the weeping and cursing and silence. I can only image the darkness that came and covered everything. The One who had taught and laughed and cried, had healed and preached and held – the Holy, Beloved One had died before their eyes. And now, what was next? What could possibly come next? Somehow, one–by-one and two-by-two they left and went home.
After what had probably been a fitful or even sleepless night, the sun rose on Saturday morning.
Holy Saturday came for those early believers. How they spent this day, we can only image. Behind closed and locked doors. Walking the streets aimlessly looking for something of life, of hope. Sitting with a back against a tree looking off in the distance. Somehow they lived in and through this day. And when the sun set, the long, endless day came mercifully to an end.
The lost-ness, the aimlessness, the brokenness of Holy Saturday feels true for me each year. As I’ve experienced losses of loved ones, losses of treasured jobs, losses of relationships the emptiness that follows lives here in Holy Saturday. This is the day when everything that is known, counted on, everything stops. Even the ground beneath seems unsure. And yet, and yet, and yet it is here, even here where our faith lives. Perhaps it is here where our faith is strongest.
It is into this Holy Silence, that God’s presence dwells. Even here, especially here – God is with us. Behind the closed and locked doors, God is as close as our next breath. Walking aimlessly (left foot, right foot), God is as close as our next breath. Sitting with our back against a tree, God is as close as our next breath.
Blessings and peace to you this day. Blessings on what was, what it and what will surely be.
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.