From Psalm 31
In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,
for you are my crag and my stronghold;
for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me (1, 3).
It is a day for quiet. A time for silence. A season to take refuge.
It is God’s sabbath, and what a sabbath. We Western 21st century Christians are accustomed to celebrating sabbath on Sunday, but in Jewish religion and tradition the sabbath day was Saturday.
The Gospel of Luke records that after Jesus’ death, the women who loved and followed Jesus went with Joseph of Arimathea as he put the body in his own fresh tomb. They saw where the body lay and went home to prepare spices and ointments. Then they rested because by now it was the sabbath (23:50-56).
About the day after the Crucifixion, the other gospel writers say nothing. They skip from Good Friday to the Day of Resurrection. Earlier readers of scripture would have known why.
If we pause with the women on this Holy Saturday, we will know that God works in the silence of this day. But we must be still to hear him.
The psalmist sought refuge in God in the psalm we recite today. With him, in silence we shut out the noise, the temptation, the busy way of the world. Today we seek a cave in which to hide; today is a day for withdrawing and trusting that even though it does not look like God is in charge, the Almighty One is carrying out his plan of salvation. He is clearing the path that opens the way for us to come to him. He is slashing through the clutter of our lives and knocking down the obstacles.
In some outrageous way, this virus that has beset us makes it easier. On this particular Holy Saturday, crowds are not rushing to the mall for last minute shopping or bustling about to pick up the Honey Baked Ham. Not that God caused this disease or sent it to us or condones it. But that even in this devastation God will work, though we may not recognize it in the throes of our despair.
There is a price to be paid to be sure. Tomorrow I will not get to hug my precious grandchildren. I won’t get to sit with them at Easter dinner and listen to their laughter as they tell us of all the goings-on in their lives. But one of them will talk me through using FaceTime, and that will have to do this year.
We do not get to see all the ways God works. Not on this side of heaven. Perhaps for one day we can stop trying and asking and demanding. Perhaps for this day we can be silent. This is a day for believing that God has not left us alone in our sorrow.
Tomorrow will look different.
For all of the lectionary readings for Holy Saturday, click here.
Marjorie George serves the Diocese of West Texas as a consultant in Adult Christian Formation. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or leave a reply below.