April 11 Holy Saturday Matthew 26:14-27:66
Today is Holy Saturday, that strange, in-between time after Friday’s darkness, when we wait for the dawning of morning and the hope of new life.
It happens every year—this dark Friday. I remember, as I child I attended a Lutheran elementary school and though my family did not attend the associated church, every Good Friday evening we would go to the service. I can still remember the lights, suddenly turned off, and Pastor Gundermann slamming the big Bible on the altar shut, as if everything had come to an end. What an impression to make on a third grader!
And I can also remember Easter dawn-breaking, gathering on the beach to watch the sun come up, singing familiar hymns surrounded by the wafting fragrance of flowers and the sound of waves crashing on the sand. I always felt some measure of relief that morning, even though, of course, we always knew Easter was coming.
But, strangely, I don’t have any memories of Saturday—the curious in-between time when we hover between death and life, hanging on with a thread to a quickly diminishing hope.
We’ve got Friday and Sunday covered, but nobody ever talks about Saturday.
Reading the events of this timeframe in Matthew’s Gospel, though, I notice that this is a day when a lot of decisions are made. Staring death straight in the face, some chose to go on living, believing in this new way of understanding God. Though filled with fear, they stayed at the cross, buried Jesus’ body, remembered the meal they had shared the night before, and tried the best they could to gather their wits about them and defiantly keep going.
Some, though, could not. Some, like Judas, stared death in the face on Friday and couldn’t summon any possibility of hope, forgiveness or future.
It seems to me that Saturday might, in fact, be one of the most important days of this week. It’s a day when we’re left hanging in between death in its rawest, most painful reality . . . and the hope of life. The question for us is whether we will defiantly hope enough to make it to Sunday. We can’t predict for sure if the sun will come up to the smell of flowers and the sound of waves crashing on sand—we don’t know for sure. But summoning every ounce of defiant faith we can, on this day we cling to the promise of life . . . and wait, no matter what comes.
God, give me courage to hang on tight and defiantly believe that you create life in what seems to be completely dead.