Can you imagine what it was like that first Saturday, when Jesus was in the tomb? His disciples and friends didn’t have the benefit we do, of knowing the end of the story. Nowadays, we spend Holy Saturday preparing for the feast we know is to come: arranging flowers in the sanctuary, baking special treats for the family dinner, planning or participating in egg hunts. We know the joy that will come tomorrow, and so it is hard to imagine what the disciples must have felt.
It wasn’t just Jesus that died on the cross–it was their hopes and dreams as well. They didn’t just mourn their friend and teacher, they mourned for a future that now seemed impossible.
I am always drawn to the women who followed Jesus. When the male disciples scattered or hid, the women were there. They were the last at the cross, and the first at the tomb. What did their Saturday look like? Was it spent gathering the spices and oils they would take to the tomb in the morning?
While it is hard for us to forget that resurrection is just around the corner, we do know, I think, the feelings of this Holy Saturday. It is the feeling after the funeral, once everyone has gone home, and you are now left in the quiet of an empty house. That stillness, that trying to figure out what life is going to be like now–that is Holy Saturday.
Many Christians, tonight, will celebrate the Great Vigil of Easter. It is a service that begins in darkness, spends time reading (quite a lot) about God’s saving actions throughout all of history, and then culminates in the news of the resurrection. This news is greeted with the Holy Noise–bells, tambourines, voices–all rise together to share the good news! And then together, the first Eucharist of Easter is celebrated.
If you’d like to take some time in quiet today, pause and read one (or more) of the readings assigned for the Easter Vigil. There’s a lot, because God’s story of salvation has been going on for a very long time. The readings marked with an asterisk are especially helpful in telling the story:
*Genesis 1:1-2:4a (Creation)
Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13 (Flood)
Genesis 22:1-18 (Testing of Abraham)
*Exodus 4:10-31; 15:20-21 (Deliverance at the Red Sea)
*Isaiah 55:1-11 (Salvation for all)
Proverbs 8:1-8, 19-21 (The wisdom of God)
Ezekiel 36:24-28 (A new heart and a new spirit)
Ezekiel 37:1-14 (Valley of the dry bones)
Zephaniah 3:14-20 (The gathering of God’s people)
Jonah 1:1-2:1 (The deliverance of Jonah)
Isaiah 61:1-4, 9-11 (Clothed in garments of salvation)
*Daniel 3:1-29 (The fiery furnace)