This is the Holy Saturday entry, the eleventh, in the UCCDM Lenten Devotional 2016 series. This devotional reflection comes from Rev. Nancy Erickson. Her bio can be found on the Board of Directors page.
57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’64 Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard[a] of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.”[b]66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone. Matthew 27: 57-66
In the calendar of the church year, this is Holy Saturday. Jesus is in the tomb. We don’t do a lot with this day in the Church. We don’t build worship services around it. We don’t sing hymns about it. But, we do live it. For those who followed Jesus today is a day of deep sadness. It is a day of loss. It is a day when hope has been turned to despair — a day when our deepest fears have come to fruition. Because today, Jesus is dead and the resurrection has not yet come. So it is a day in the middle. Caught in the middle waiting. As someone with a significant disability I know about waiting. Those of us who live with disabilities wait for diagnosis, wait for assistance, wait for laws and policies to change, wait for the bus with the lift to come by. Our lives are filled with waiting. Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one, the pronouncement of a terminal illness, loss of job or income, or any other devastating blow, also understands what Holy Saturday is about. What was is no more and what will be is not yet clear or known. It feels as if there is nowhere to go and nothing to do. The Holy Saturdays of our lives last a lot longer than one day. So what does one do?
This is where the actions of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary have something to say to us. We read here that they were there sitting across from the tomb. I imagine that they were sitting in silence, remembering, wondering, waiting, hoping. Maybe that is what faithfulness looks like on Holy Saturday. There is not much to do except be present to the reality of what is. Holy Saturday is a difficult day. We so desperately want to be relieved of the pain. The two women of Holy Saturday will become the first people Jesus greets on Easter Sunday. So trust the silence and the waiting. The time for action will come. But for now be still. Remember, wonder, hope. Pray. It is Holy Saturday and the God who loves you is at work.
God of death and life, give us the patience and courage to trust you in the times of sorrow as well as the times of joy. May we be still and know that you are God. And may we trust that death always transforms into new life. Amen.