Today is Holy Saturday, the last day in the sober season of Lent before the paschal season of rejoicing begins tomorrow. Growing up, I didn’t know about this day. I remember Good Friday, with its somber music, dramatic reimaginings of Jesus’ crucifixion, and my discomfort of sitting with the death of Jesus. I also remember singing songs like “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and the Hallelujah Chorus on Easter Sunday as dancers with brightly colored banners proclaimed the joyful resurrection of Christ. But at some point in my young adult years, as my faith was really becoming my own, I remember reading through the Gospel accounts and realizing that those three days between Good Friday and Easter Sunday must have been so disorienting for Jesus’ disciples, followers, and loved ones, and realizing that in some other Christian traditions, this day is recognized and set aside as a holy day.
Each year now, I like to set aside today as a holy day. I spend Holy Saturday in contemplative reflection on those days, two thousand years ago, between Jesus’ agonizing, brutal, humiliating death on the Cross and His glorious resurrection. It is always a day where I wrestle with my own faith: How would I have responded if I were alive back then? Would I have put myself to work doing practical tasks, like Joseph and the two Marys mentioned in today’s reading? Would I have been absent from the narrative like the disciples? Would I have responded like the Pharisees—calling Jesus a “deceiver” with my mouth, but still obviously fearing Him enough even in death to put a plan in place to prove me right? Would I have just gone about my regular Sabbath routines as if it was just another day?
Each year, God meets me on this holy day in a different way. This year, I have been struck by the presence of women at the foot of the Cross as Jesus dies, and how they carry the narrative of Holy Saturday as mentioned in Mark 15-16, Luke, 23-24, and John 19. Last year, I remember God leading me into a reflection on the stillness of this time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I want to challenge you to sit with these Gospel accounts today and to allow God to speak to you on this day of discomfort, unknowing, stillness, and death. It is a day of holding the tension between doubt and faith; it is a day of trusting that what God has said He will do is what God will actually do. It is a day of being present to the discomforts of the reality of what is, and at the same time, to be hopeful for what will be.
As you prayerfully read these verses today, what is God bringing to your heart and mind to reflect on?
by Liz Carver