This Holy Week, I’m going to be blogging each day, tracing the tears Jesus shed for Jerusalem to the tear filled eyes who first saw the Risen Christ. Throughout I’ll be following prompts from #OurHolyWeek
No one likes to talk about days like today.
There is no drama, no battle, no victory.
The grave is full and the grief is raw.
It feels like death has won.
Below is a reflection on Holy Saturday adapted from my book “Learning to Breathe“.
Holy Saturday is a day to lament.
Holy Saturday is the valley of grief and uncertainty, for us and for Jesus’ disciples.’
It’s the place where we spiritually live so often, when the worst has happened and we don’t know if or how we can go on – yet in the midst of darkness we trust that dawn will break. It’s often like this in the rest of life, I think. We often remember the most dramatic days, the happiest, but how often do we remember the days of silence, when everything is wrong but nothing can be done? I don’t know if it’s a good thing that we forget days like these in our own lives, but I think it would be good if we spent a little more time remembering Holy Saturday.
It goes beyond the agony of the cross, even. The day when it was finished – when Jesus was dead – because of our sins. It is a day of silence, it seems.
God doesn’t always speak. Sometimes the silence of God says it all. As I write, I’m reminded of Job. Job who lost everything and everyone who mattered to him. Job whose friends were worse than useless. Job to whom God remained silent, waiting to speak. It strikes me that the silence of God is more often than not followed by a presence of God that is so awesome, so mighty, that we can do nothing but bow in praise and awe.
A season like this Holy Saturday can seem endless. It’s the state in which we sometimes live our lives. It’s an open wound. Shelly Rambo writes:
‘The reality is that death has not ended; instead it persists. The experience of survival is one in which life, as it once was, cannot be retrieved. However the promise of life ahead cannot be envisioned.’
There is no happy ending on Holy Saturday. Jesus is in the grave and the shadows of His death keep this day dark without a hope for the resurrection dawn. It’s a mistake to rush beyond today, because it is reflected so often in life.
Holy Saturday continues the tradition of lament set out in the Old Testament, throughout the Psalms and, of course, Lamentations. It tells us that even when God is silent, he is still to be trusted.
It’s important not to rush past the silent days of lament.
We have to be able to deal with the times when God does seem to be on mute, to be absent.
Silence does not mean that God does not exist; scripture shows us that God’s work of life begins in the dark silence and reminds us that even on these; there is hope because Jesus has been in the dark of the tomb and it was the beginning of our greatest hope.
He blesses every love that weeps and grieves
And makes our grief the pangs of a new birth.
The love that’s poured in silence at old graves
Renewing flowers, tending the bare earth,
Is never lost. In him all love is found
And sown with him, a seed in the rich ground.