A Thought For Holy Saturday

On the seventh day God rested
In the silence of the tomb;
Having finished on the sixth day
All his work of joy and doom.
Now the world had fallen silent,
And the water had run dry,
The bread had all been scattered,
And the light had left the sky.
The flock had lost its shepherd,
And the seed was sadly sown,
The courtiers had betrayed their king,
And nailed Him to His throne.
O Sabbath rest by Calvary,
O calm of tomb below,
Where the grave clothes and the spices
Cradle Him we did not know!
Rest you well, beloved Jesus,
Caesar’s Lord and Israel’s King,
In the brooding of the Spirit,
In the darkness of the spring.          -N.T. Wright

I've always found great mystery on this day of Holy Week. Few days get less attention than Holy Saturday, but for whatever reason, I'm drawn into it each year.

Today there will be family barbecues, since folks are in town. There'll be easter egg hunts, visits to the mall, rounds of golf.... in even the most reverent Christian communities, Holy Saturday will be treated as a sort of flex-day before Easter Sunday. But I can't help but think that something gets lost when Holy Saturday is not observed. There's a mystery that gets obscured.

Jesus does not only take on his body the act of being killed and the act of dying on Good Friday. On Holy Saturday, he takes on the act of being dead.... of being lifeless....

Even in his crucifixion, even as Jesus bleeds, there is some living happening... as Joe Kay wrote yesterday, "If we’re not bleeding, we’re not living." Last night, at the Good Friday service at our church, we appropriately focused our reflection on Jesus' seven final words. On Good Friday, there are words to which we can listen... words of Jesus' dying... words like, "into your hands I commit my spirit..." But on Holy Saturday, there are no words to which we can listen... only the silence, the kind of silence that only death can manufacture... the piercing and frustrating silence of the dead. There's death where we thought there'd be life. The one who was to save us has failed...

I wonder what comfort we might find in Jesus' being dead, in Jesus' presence in the utter silence of a tomb. I wonder if we should be comforted in knowing that even this kind of darkness is not reserved from whatever future this Jesus may have. And I wonder if we'll miss the comfort if we ignore the darkness.