[I originally wrote this last year on Easter weekend for my blog, I Still Hate Pickles. I feel this way every year, so an update and repost seemed in order!]
Easter is a complex holiday.
There is the 40-day Lenten period (literally 46, but celebrated as 40), led off by Ash Wednesday and the reminder of our sin. Holy Week has Maundy Thursday where we remember the meal Jesus ate with his disciples, then Good Friday, a day that has always seemed wrongly named, despite the good Jesus accomplished on the cross. Easter Sunday, with trumpets and rejoicing and celebration with lilies and singing and joyous cries of “He is risen!”
And a forgotten Saturday, sandwiched between the Friday of Christ’s crucifixion and his rising.
It is an awkward day, yet a day I think about a lot. I feel like it should be its own holidays of sorts. A silent one, a solemn one. A day of shock—realizing the impact of the bloody death the day before. A day of remembrance, a day stripped of the hope that will be found come sunrise with an angel, a stone rolled away, and the sweet familiar voice that whispered, “Mary.”
But Saturday instead becomes the day to get everything done before things close for Easter. Tomorrow will mean a lot of baking and cooking for me, plus an Easter egg hunt with the kids and possibly staving off (another) ear infection for Cooper. Plus the whole packing things that is still happening around here.
While these outward things, these busy and loud and public things, go on, thoughts are curling round, small and quiet. The lick of flame as only the embers burn.
It was a day marred with death and waiting. A day without the light of Easter and resurrection, for the full picture of redemption was muddied and unclear. Hopes had been crushed and died on a Roman cross, preparation for burial rushed or left undone for the sake of the Sabbath.
As this Good Friday comes to a close, I think of what may have been the saddest Saturday in history, the time after Jesus’ death but before hope came with the light of dawn. A silent day. A day of mourning, of doubt. Watching The Passion tonight with Rob, I saw the Pharisees, crowd, and Roman soldiers mock Jesus, telling him that if he were really the Messiah, he should come down off the cross. It would be a very human thing for even his most steadfast followers to be pricked with doubt.
Was Jesus the Messiah?
If so, why DIDN’T he just climb down?
Why didn’t God stop the whole thing?
Saturday would be the perfect time for stewing. A Sabbath day, leaving no work to be done, no distractions to be had. A day of rest, of meditation. For me, when I am worried or plagued by something, having time to think means my thoughts become like fire ants, swarming out of the mound, biting and stinging. They rise up and move and heap upon themselves, seeming to multiply. I wonder if any of the Jesus’ followers spent that Saturday with their thoughts swarming?
I don’t plan to let my thoughts swarm this Easter Saturday, but I hope to meditate. To think on events 2000 years ago that are still as relevant today. If they seem distant to you, take some time to meditate. I struggle with this (as I mentioned earlier this week) but taking some time to read the words of the Bible in a fresh way can help. Seeing The Passion brought up new questions and thoughts and also left me feeling uncomfortable and mournful. The Good News of the gospel is SO good because of the bad news of how we are on our own, without the raising of Jesus or his forgiveness in our lives.
If you want to read more, you can snag my devotional on Amazon. Or I’d be happy to have a dialogue with you if this is something you want to talk about, so shoot me an email.