To me, Holy Saturday is one of most important moments of Holy Week. Sure, I love the Palm Sunday Hosannas, and wave my palm with gusto as we parade around the church, and rejoice each Easter with the emergence of Resurrection Life. I recognize the power of love demonstrated by Jesus on Maundy Thursday and God’s suffering love on Good Friday. Still the uncertainty of Holy Saturday speaks to me. Holy Sunday plunges us into the void of unknowing.
Most of us live, from time to time, in Holy Saturday. We experience the celebration of Palm Sunday and the jubilation of Easter and the stark pain of Good Friday, but those are immediate and momentary. Holy Saturday is the time in between death and resurrection, fear and hope, pain and comfort. Holy Saturday is the valley of grief and uncertainty, for us and Jesus’ first disciples.
On Holy Saturday, we don’t know what the future will bring. We don’t know if the cancer can be cured, a relationship healed, or if we will love again or find the position that fulfills our vocation.
It is difficult for us to experience Holy Saturday during Holy Week. After all, we’ve read the story; we know that there’s a happy ending – resurrection and new life! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! If you’re a pastor, you may already have finished your Easter sermon by Thursday or Friday, and have prepared yourself to share Good News! This luxury wasn’t available to Jesus’ first followers. All they had was the hope that somehow their Teacher and Savior would live on in their hearts and imaginations.
But, we can still share the journey of the first Easter. We can take a few hours on Friday evening to re-read the Good Friday scriptures. We can, if our family situation permits, take a mini-retreat on Holy Saturday, spending time in prayer and reflection. You might in the interplay of silence, scripture, and journaling, consider the following as questions for spiritual reflection:
• What is open and uncertain in my life?
• Where am I grieving? What losses am I living with?
• What are my “what next” questions?
• How am I living with uncertainty?
• Where am I experiencing God in the interim time?
Take time to pray your uncertainties, lifting them up to God for comfort and guidance, knowing God is with us in the wilderness.
Life is often a time of Holy Saturdays with no resurrection in sight. Like the “valley of the shadow” of Psalm 23, we can train our senses and heart and mind to experience God’s Spirit in the darkest valleys. We can gain sympathy for those persons who are struggling as we face our own Holy Saturday struggles. While our real time resurrections are uncertain – our successes still in suspense – we can listen for God’s voice of companionship, care, and counsel as live the uncertainty of Holy Saturday.
Bruce Epperly is a Cape Cod pastor, theologian, spiritual guide, and professor. The Pastor of South Congregational Church, Centerville, MA, he is the author of fifty books, including “The Mystic in You: Discovering a God-filled World,” “Become Fire: Guideposts for Interspiritual Pilgrims,” and “Spiritual Decluttering Days: 40 Days to Spiritual Transformation and Planetary Healing.”