Holy Saturday by William Challis
It’s a strange day, this Holy Saturday…for us it is simply a day of waiting, with neither the deep solemnity of Good Friday nor the joyful celebration of Easter Sunday. We just have to wait, which is good, because it reminds us that Jesus was really dead and buried – he didn’t just jump off the cross in some sort of magic trick. He really died…he was really buried…his body was really in the tomb.
Today’s very short reading reminds us of the reality of the burial of Jesus: John 19 vv.38-42
Waiting is not too difficult for us, because we know what tomorrow brings; we may even have the Easter Eggs already stacked up and ready (I recommend keeping them in the fridge…)! But, of course, for Jesus’ disciples, there wasn’t really anything to wait for. They clearly were anticipating nothing except trouble. The only emotion we hear that they were feeling was that of fear. They were afraid of the Jewish authorities who might well decide that, having dealt with the leader of this dangerous Jesus movement, it might be a good time to pick off the more vulnerable of his followers and nip the whole thing in the bud. Twice John tells us of this fear (19 v.38, 20 v.19).
A few of them were waiting for the opportunity to go and embalm the body in the way that would show it the greatest possible respect, and they had to delay their trip to the tomb until the Passover Sabbath was over and the new day rose. But it must have been a hard waiting.
I imagine that most of the time that little group of Jesus’ followers were probably just experiencing ‘the fog of loss,’ as it has been called, loss so overwhelming that it is impossible to see a way out of it. Many of us may have experienced such a ‘fog of loss’ in our lives. Perhaps we can use those memories of loss to enter into the experience of Holy Saturday, a day of waiting with nothing to wait for, a day marked by death and loss, a dead end. Certainly, none of them appears to have been waiting for a resurrection, even though Jesus had hinted at such an astonishing change in his own teaching. If we can begin to imagine, just a little, this ‘fog of loss,’ then we might be even more overwhelmed by the unexpected, glorious Easter morning which will come tomorrow.
Grant, Lord, that we who are baptized into the death of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ may continually put to death our evil desires and be buried with him; and that through the grave and gate of death we may pass to our joyful resurrection; through his merits, who died and was buried and rose again for us, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Collect for Holy Saturday)