I wish the Gospels said more about Holy Saturday. Except for today's reading from Matthew and one verse in Luke (23:56), nothing is written. Yet, it was a full day as much as any other day we have looked at. It is not only the day when Jesus was entombed; it is also a symbol for the days when we feel numb and lifeless—the day between loss and gain, between sickness and health, between a problem and a solution. It is a day we are all familiar with—one we revisit over the course of our lifetimes.
The reading from Matthew is clear about one thing: It is a day (a time, a phase) of insecurity. John shows it to us in the experience of the disciples and then in the conversation between Pilate and the chief priests. He shows that no one was confident, much less certain, about what was happening. Between darkness and light, we never are.
We have the benefit of knowing how things turned out in the Gospel story. But we need to read this passage from Matthew with the same mindset as those mentioned in it—insecure, fearful, not having any idea where things are headed.
We must not omit Holy Saturday from our spirituality. We cannot get from Friday to Sunday—from Jesus’ death to his resurrection—without the tomb. Neither can we get from defeat to victory, sadness to joy without in-between numbness.
Holy Saturday teaches us that insecurity is part of the spiritual life. The psalmist cries out to God from that very place: “God, why have you forsaken me?” Holy Saturday is a stark reminder that spirituality includes being entombed as well as being enlivened.
Dear God, thank you that your grace enables me to live through the insecure times in my life. Amen.
The readings for Holy Week focus our attention on the sacrifice made by the Messiah. The prophecies in Isaiah speak of it. Psalm 22 tells of confidence in God even in the midst of betrayal and suffering like that experienced by Jesus. In First Corinthians Paul describes crucifixion as the center of our teaching as Christians. We follow these events through the eyes of the Gospel writer John. Jesus foreshadows his death in multiple ways, but even his closest followers struggle to understand and accept its meaning. Why would the Son of God experience such alienation and suffering? It is all for us, the ultimate work of love. But then he conquers the grave! Praise be to God!
Read John 13:21-32. When have you noticed darkness planting seeds of betrayal in your heart? How did you follow Jesus’ light?
Read John 13:1-17, 31b-35. What status symbols do you hold on to that keep you from following Jesus’ example of humble service?
Read Isaiah 52:13–53:12. On Good Friday, God enters into human suffering. When have you felt God’s presence in your suffering?
Read John 20:1-18. How has Christ found you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
Whitney Simpson offers a wide-open doorway into embodied practice and awakens us to the long-held wisdom of our tradition that our bodies are sacred places where God meets us and dwells. Fully Human, Fully Divine is a true Christmas gift!”
Click here to learn more about our newest Advent book and eCourse.