The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, ‘Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, “After three days I will rise again.” Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, “He has been raised from the dead”, and the last deception would be worse than the first.’ Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.’ So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.
~ Matthew 27:62-66
Breath Prayer: “hold” “on”
The day in-between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, Holy Saturday. The day after the believers witnessed Jesus' death. The day after they had lived through the loss of hope and vision. The day after life as they'd believed it to be had died. Death was witnessed in front of their eyes. The One who had come and turned water into wine, despair into hope, brokenness into healing, this One was now gone.
I wonder what it must have been like. What was it like to have watched the daylight of that Friday leave and to have the nighttime come. To watch this endless night finally come. I wonder if anyone slept at all. Pacing. Weeping. Sobbing. And then after the hours in the dark, when the light of the morning was finally dawning ~ what did they think? I wonder what they imagined their lives would be like on this next day, on this Holy Saturday.
I have not experienced that devastation. But I have witnessed the death of what I thought to be true, what I thought my life would be like. I have experienced that long, dark night.
There is a faithfulness about living in and through Holy Saturday. Easter had not yet come to the followers of Jesus. There was no rolling away of the stone yet for them. There was just the echo of his stories and memories of times on the hillside or by the lake. There is a core-strength that lives into what is not yet seen, but held tightly. There is a strength that truly passes our understanding. There is a strength....
For me again this year there are shadows and uncertainties with Holy Saturday. “Joy and suffering” accompany the days of Holy Week, but not this day. This in-between day holds the emptiness, the ache, the fear of unspeakable grief and loss. It is the faith that allows/enables/brings us to put one foot in front of the other and enter into the day ~ this is the “faith of our fathers and our mothers.”
Today is not a day to endure only. Today is not a day to rush through only. Today is not a day to shut-down and be numb only. Today is our day of walking with a presence that for all intents and purposes has gone, has left us.
Today is our day to step out in a faith that we claim and that claims us. More than any other day, this day teaches us to hold on and to see in the dark.
Prayer: Merciful God, as we wait we listen for you with our whole hearts. Amen.
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.