We call the Saturday before Easter Holy Saturday. I believe it is the most excruciatingly painful day in the Christian year.
It is a day of grim reality. It is a day of harsh loss…after the death, after the divorce, after the worst news you can imagine. Nothing is fixed. Nothing is better. Only silence and pain.
Most of us skip over this day. I’ve already seen people declaring widely that yes Friday hurt but Sunday is coming. I get that. I want to skip it too.
But our faith invites us to stay here a while. Sit with the loss, the pain and the death. Listen into the silence. Feel it.
The Bible is even almost silent about this day. Only Matthew describes a bit of activity, accounting, how even though it was the Sabbath a guard was requested for the tomb. (Matthew 27:62-66)
Today, all around the world, Christians and others are on lockdown because of the threat of this Covid virus. All our best laid plans are stripped away. No family gatherings. No big meals. No egg hunts. No worship services planned except online. No one really knows how this thing will play out; who will get sick; when we will be returning to normal or what normal will be after this. We are living a real world nightmare, concerned about our health, our economy, our future plans.
We find ourselves back to what the disciples and loved ones of Jesus must have felt that day, pure, raw pain, defeat, loss so deep it hurt. No one knew what would happen next even though Jesus had tried to describe it. We are stuck in uncertainty combined with fear and loss. It is a most awkwardly painful place to be. And have you noticed in this Saturday place that time moves very slowly? Do your clocks tick more loudly than they used to as you sit at home? Are you shocked when you look at the time expecting it to be dinner time and it is only 2:30 p.m.? We are in a slow motion time of loss and painful waiting. Holy Saturday.
Richard Rohr reminds us this time is called in Latin limen which means threshold. A liminal space is the crucial in between time-when everything is happening and yet nothing appears to be happening….One cannot just jump from Friday to Sunday…there must be Saturday….It is our great act of trust and surrender, both together. (Wondrous Encounters Scriptures for Lent)
I believe most of our Christian life is actually spent in these Saturday seasons…most of the time we are living in real world pain and consequences; most of the time we are waiting because the story has not yet been fully told. We live believing in new life, transformation and redemption but we do not yet see it fully. We get glimpses but mostly we wait.
Are you sheltering in place today feeling some angst, grief, pain and uncertainty? You are not alone. Does it feel excruciatingly uncomfortable? Sit with it. Notice it. This is the place where faith is the hardest and the most important. This is the place where we make a space for what God will do next.
It is not very hard to have faith on Easter. On Saturday, it is the hardest thing you will ever do.
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mosa to Keller and Pace, breast cancer survivor. Go to http://www.drcindyryanblog.com to see a Palm Sunday 2020 message from Dr. Ryan, sign up for the Inner Circle and to learn more about the Jesus Calling Weekly Prayer Call she hosts each week.