Silent Saturday

“Silent Saturday”. That’s what I have taken to calling that day between the crucifixion of Jesus and the Resurrection of Christ. The Gospels say little of this Sabbath day: Matthew reports that the chief Priests and Pharisees go to Pilate on this day and ask for the tomb to be sealed and guarded to prevent the disciples from taking the body, Luke notes only that the women who followed Jesus rested on the Sabbath, Mark and John say nothing at all about this day.  Of course today, our consumer culture fills it with Easter egg hunts, breakfasts and lunches with the Easter Bunny, and last minute shopping to fill those Easter baskets.

As a pastor I turned to all of those books lining my study for some word of assurance, some instruction with what to do with this discordant day adrift between the horror and hopelessness of Good Friday and the exuberance of Easter Sunday, but even the historic creeds offer little help: the Nicene ignores Saturday completely, and the Apostles’ Creed only comment on Saturday is that “he descended into hell”. So what are we to make of this day, this impossible “in-between” time? For the disciples and other followers of Jesus, Friday marks the seeming end of an era, this man was to be the answer to prayer, a revolutionary, a healer, a leader who would change not only their lives but would change the world. And then he died like a common criminal and it seemed like the end. The numerous resurrection accounts all point to disciples who by and large seemed lost and alone, uncertain of what to do and afraid that they might be next. Of course Christians today have the whole story, we know Easter is coming, but our response to Holy Saturday is just as baffling. We pretend it doesn’t exist, we march head-long into our Easter preparations and celebrations. But what if we paused, what if we sought to live into the ambiguity of this day, if we slowed down and contemplated what difference the story really makes to our lives?

It’s the expectancy and the waiting that make for the joyous celebration of Easter. For this reason, I would call us to consider an intentional observance of this day, a pausing from our usual routines to consider what God’s salvific works really mean for us and this world. Many of you may recall on that last Sunday before Lent we sang out our “Hallelujah’s” in preparation for those 40 days of Lent where we would abstain from such words of praise….but like Jesus’ body in the tomb on Holy Saturday, those words and songs of joyous praise lie silent in their chest, stashed away in our sanctuary. But, oh what a joyous noise we shall make on Easter morning when the stone has been rolled away, the tomb is found empty, the chest is flung open and once again we shout along and sing with delight over the miraculous salvation that we have received. We may experience a “silent Saturday”, we may have silenced our “alleluia’s” for a season, but the wondrous, mighty power of our God cannot be contained forever, come Easter Sunday we will once again fill the sanctuary with songs of joy, with shouts of praise, as we celebrate The Resurrection of our Lord. I pray that each of you may find the time to pause between Friday and Sunday, to reflect on what it means to be a people of faith in all the uncertainties and ambiguities of life. It is only in experiencing the silence of Saturday that we can come to greatest appreciation of the excitement of Easter.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Tara