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The Longest of Days

Holy Saturday

I have always felt a little uncomfortable entering a church on Holy Saturday afternoon and finding a dozen industrious and wonderfully gifted flower-arrangers working away at splendid pedestals, pulpit and font adornments and window decorations: not that I have any objection to flowers and flower arrangers-far from it. It is simply that it somehow feels too soon. Only hours after the Passion and pain of Good Friday, we are confronted with the anticipation of Easter Sunday, and I feel strangely cheated of the twenty-four hours in between.

Jesus is dead and his body lies in the tomb. Joseph of Areimathea, a secret disciple, has served his Lord in death in a way he could never have openly served him in life.

He has lavishly tended the distended corpse with expensive myrrh and aloes and laid the body in his own tomb.  He is a friend in grief and in pain. It is the day of preparation. There will be a day of waiting until Sabbath is over.

Holy Saturday is, perhaps the most neglected day of the Christian year. Yet it is a day that has a particular message of its own. It speaks powerfully to us of an in-between time, a day when (as for the apostles) the pain and anguish of Good Friday resonates in our ears and hearts, a day when all seems to be lost, a day of never ending hopelessness.

Yet equally for each one of us who live with the perspective of the resurrection of Easter Sunday, Holy Saturday becomes a day, not of dark despair but of hopeful anticipation.

In our own day to day Christian lives in a world that knows the suffering of oppression, war, natural and human disaster, a world in which infants die and terrorists seem to triumph, to live consciously through holy Saturday can remind us that both the pain of good Friday and resurrection of Easter Sunday are held within the purposes of God in Christ.

The Church is called to minister, or rather we as members of the Church, are called to minister in this in-between time, on this the ‘longest of days’, to acknowledge suffering and anticipate resurrection, and so we can become the bearer of both pain and of hope in a waiting and wounded world.

For many, Holy Saturday is a non-event. But not for us, May it become for us this year, a day to live with the anguish and the hope and the waiting of the in-between time, knowing that things will be restored in and through the risen Christ


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