Holy Saturday

Worship on your own.

If your family is like mine, Holy Saturday isn’t necessarily a reverent or contemplative day.  There’s food to prepare for Sunday’s Easter celebration.   There are plastic eggs to be hidden, then found, and boiled eggs for the kids to dye.  It’s messy and loud and fun, which sounds like the exact opposite of the first Holy Saturday, when the disciples and their community were locked away in fear and mourning.  Their grief at the loss of their teacher and friend could only have been compounded by the devastation of their misunderstanding—remember, they thought the Messiah would lead them to conquer the Roman Empire, not be crucified by it.  Their despair must have been absolute, but does ours have to be in order for us to faithfully observe the day?

Truthfully, I’m not sure.  I do believe the totality of this story should move us.  We should give ourselves over fully to the hope of Maundy Thursday and the anguish of Good Friday, and so we should also give ourselves over fully to the mourning of Holy Saturday.  We should also remember that this was Sabbath for those earliest Christ-followers.  They wouldn’t have been cooking or cleaning or preparing, and they certainly wouldn’t have been decorating.

Whatever you do this Holy Saturday, try to make some Sabbath time for yourself.  Seek out the opportunity to dwell in this story, to pray and to meditate, to feel what the disciples must have felt.  Be intentional about turning your face to God, and invite those around you to join you.  Maybe seek out an Easter Vigil service attend, or carve out some intentional quiet time to be still.  Or, if your day is full of family, like mine is, be intentional about linking your activities to the meaning of the day. 

If you’re cooking with little ones around, explain to them that Holy Saturday was a really hard day for the disciples, and sometimes when things are hard, the best thing that we can do is look forward to when they’ll feel better.  By preparing for that time, we aren’t just hoping for a better time, but working towards it.  They may feel this lesson most keenly in the time they have to wait between preparing the meal on Saturday and getting to eat it on Sunday. 

If you’re hunting Easter eggs, talk about how it’s faithful to not just wait for joy, but to seek it out, and to celebrate with our friends when we find it.  (Older children might understand the symbolism of hollow Easter eggs, and you can do a lot with that, but you may do well to keep it simple with younger children and focus on what they are experiencing in that moment— searching, excitement, and community.)  If you’re dying eggs, you can and should talk about the new life promised in eggs, but you can also talk about God’s intention for the world, which is creative beauty.  When we create beauty in the world, it’s pleasing to God, whose sacrifice for us was the ultimate creation of beauty.