A reflection for Holy Saturday

Simon Harvey writes,

Today is not Easter Saturday. It's Holy Saturday.

Easter is not yet here. We're in the gap between Good Friday, the day when Christians solemnly recall the death of Jesus, and Easter Day, when we gladly celebrate his resurrection.

Holy Saturday has always intrigued me. Possibly because really there's nothing to do. St Mary's has no services, except for our usual daily morning prayer. In the past, I have used this moment to pause and draw breath, to rest and prepare for celebration in the morning.

The world is hardly pausing, though. It's a bank holiday weekend and Islington's shops, bars and restaurants are teeming.

To be truthful, I've always felt a bit lost on Holy Saturday. The gospels suggest nothing for us to commemorate or to remember on the day after Good Friday. God seems to have gone quiet. If we allow our imaginations to explore what that day would have felt like for Jesus' friends we can glimpse their bereavement. Grief-stricken and lost, they seem to have nothing to do, as busy Jerusalem bustled around them. For disciples, today is all about absence, not activity.

Of course, we know how this story moves forward; we can see that today isn't the first day of a long, sad anticlimax to the Jesus story. It's the eve of resurrection day. With that assurance, it's tempting to rush forward and get on with the feasting. I reckon we need to resist the impulse. Feeling our craving to get on with life, sit with the tension. Death behind us. Risen life ahead of us. And today, just a gap.

This year, my Easter experience is all strangeness. Jennifer, my beloved wife, died on Tuesday.

As the days pass, her absence is growing. The thought of not holding her or talking with her and knowing that I never will again in this life is a painful wound. But I can allow Holy Saturday to orientate me. The awful fact of death behind me, the divine promise of risen life ahead of me.

I sense that perhaps I shall be in Holy Saturday for a long time. This gap will be mine to mind and it will not pass in a few hours. But I shall allow it to steer me. I am content to be lost for a while and unsure what to do because I know that among all the facts the resurrection of Jesus is a more decisive fact than any other.