Saturday, April 4, 2015

Daily Lenten Post, Holy Saturday

No one knows what happened during that one full day that Jesus laid in the tomb. Christian tradition states that he "descended to the dead" (though some of us leave that out of our version of the Apostles' Creed). Otherwise known as the harrowing of hell, this is when Jesus went to the realm of the dead and retrieved the souls of the righteous who had died since the beginning of time. This idea is based on verses from 1 Peter 3:

18 Christ himself suffered on account of sins, once for all, the righteous one on behalf of the unrighteous. He did this in order to bring you into the presence of God. Christ was put to death as a human, but made alive by the Spirit. 19 And it was by the Spirit that he went to preach to the spirits in prison. 20 In the past, these spirits were disobedient—when God patiently waited during the time of Noah. Noah built an ark in which a few (that is, eight) lives were rescued through water.

Maybe you've taken time to wonder what, exactly, happened on that dark day so long ago. Maybe you've never really thought about it before. There's so little in scripture that suggests anything that happened on that particular Sabbath day that it's highly debated if the harrowing of hell may have occurred. Perhaps it's one of those questions we will just have to wait to have answered.

Whatever Jesus may have been doing in the tomb, those who had loved him surely spent that Sabbath day wrapped in the numbness and disbelief of those who grieve, having watched their beloved teacher wrapped in the clothes of death and laid in a borrowed tomb the evening before. We may feel their pain today, as we grieve something in our own lives. We may feel the frustration they had, of having to wait to finish the job of preparing and burying him properly. What do we feel is left undone this day? What are we waiting for, that we just want to get over with, but we can't do it right now?

Maybe Holy Saturday hasn't been part of your spiritual journey thus far. Making cinnamon rolls for the church's Easter breakfasts, practicing for sunrise services, and shopping for Easter dresses characterized most of the Holy Saturdays of my growing up years, once I was too old for Easter egg hunts. As far as I knew, Good Friday was over and all was about to be great, once Sunday came. Saturday just felt like the day in between. And I guess that's really just what it is. Holy Saturday: the day in between...but not a day to be ignored or skipped or rushed through for me, any more.

Presently, I'm sitting my church's sanctuary. Yesterday afternoon, a church member died. Tomorrow, we will baptize a baby. Today, I sit and wait. I have offered my congregation a space and time to make Holy Saturday part of their Holy Week observance. Several have come by. Some have shed tears as they walked through the Stations of the Cross that I taped up on the walls for today. Some have sat in quiet contemplation. (I wonder if the music I cued on my iPod was distracting to any of them...) I am thankful for this time. It is not wasted. If anything, it is spent in solidarity with the one who spent a whole day in the tomb, and with all who find themselves in tombs of any kind today. May we find that when tomorrow dawns, we may be surprised by grace once again, despite what today has held for us.

No comments:

Post a Comment