Holy Saturday is perhaps one of the most overlooked days of Holy Week. In a way that is understandable. It comes after the very solemn remembrances of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and directly before the jubilation of Easter Sunday. That is a shame, because Holy Saturday offers something to each and every one of us, wherever we find ourselves in relationship with Jesus Christ.
One reason, perhaps, that Holy Saturday is undervalued is because so much of it is left up to our imaginations. Not a lot is written about it, and so there are no specific things we commemorate on this day. But, it seems to me, that its power is found in this imagining of what that day would have been like for the first followers of Jesus.
I suppose that some of them held out hope. They truly believed everything that Jesus had commanded and they were waiting upon the Lord with renewed vigor. As each second ticked by they anticipated an act of God to break into the midst of this supposed tragedy. Some of us can relate to that eager expectation. We see that in the cross Jesus laid bare the systems of this world for what they are, and so as we work in this world we eagerly await the decisive inbreaking of God’s magnificent Kingdom.
Others, I imagine were less hopeful. On that cross all of their hopes and dreams were dashed. Jesus was slaughtered by the very religious and political systems he came to transform. Now they have seen their rabbi massacred, and their hope lays dead in the tomb next to Jesus. Many of us understand this feeling. Whether through the injustices of our world, the death of loved ones, or the crushed dreams of days gone by; on this Saturday our hope lay dead in the tomb with Jesus. Perhaps we don’t doubt the story of Jesus or his teachings, but we find ourselves beaten bare by the world and the hope of God’s kingdom seems distant at best.
This group waits as well. They wait with the faint hope that something good may happen, but with the learned reality that more pain and heartache, perhaps their own imprisonment, torture, and death awaits them in the near future.
These two groups are united in their waiting. Both groups, those who eagerly anticipate the coming Kingdom and those who wait because they simply have no other option, wait together. We wait together because we must.
The truth of Easter, then, is that the glory of resurrection comes to both of these groups. Some eagerly accept the good news; others doubt but still step out on faith. All are greeted by the resurrected Christ who welcomes us all into the Kingdom of light and love, and that is why Holy Saturday is so important.
Holy Saturday is holy because it makes us wait, and Easter, like a fine wine, always tastes better with age.