Saturday, 30 March 2013

Empty day

It's Saturday morning but it doesn't feel like a normal Saturday.

It feels like we're in suspense. 

Waiting. A friend asked me earlier what we were doing today and I said I didn't know; it was a sort of 'limbo day'. She described it as 'an empty day', which I took to mean that she had no plans, but it might just as well have been a sense that something is missing.

There's a void. A void of activity at church after the past week of services to remember Holy Week.

Yesterday we went to the Hot Cross Bun service and looked again at the cross. Tomorrow we'll celebrate your resurrection, but today we wait. We feel the lack of something. Emptiness. A hole. 

We miss you. 

This was the day-in-between. I wonder what the disciples did that day. It was their Sabbath - did they go to the Temple and go through the motions? Did they stay in a room together and weep and try and work it out? Did they blame each other? Did they realise that they abandoned their Lord when it came to the end?  Did they go their separate ways? Merge into a crowd? 

They missed you. 

Max Lucado points out in his book 'He Chose the Nails' that you told the disciples three times that you would be executed and then on the third day you would rise from the grave.

Three times.

How many of them were waiting at the graveside that first Easter to see it happen?  None. Did they believe it? Did they not hear? Would I? Something so amazing? Even if I'd seen Lazarus peel off his own grave-clothes?

But hey, they were only human. They were scared. That first middle Saturday they must have been beside themselves with grief. You were their friend. You gave them purpose. You changed their lives. You showed them what to do and you had gone.

They missed you. 

So I'm sitting here with a cup of tea and it feels a bit like marking time. I, of course, know what happens tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it. I love Easter day. Even so, today is a forgotten day. A lost day. I had a little smile of satisfaction when I learned earlier on that historically this middle day of the three is considered a limbo-sort of day. 

A friend from church sent me an email all about today. 

I learned that 'Holy Saturday' (in Latin, Sabbatum Sanctum) is known as 'the day of the entombed Christ'. It is 'the Lord's day of rest' as this was the day that you were lying in your tomb. (Or were you? Were you getting your breath back? Were you off dealing with the devil on that day? Wiping the smirk off his face? Raising up the saints who had been waiting and waiting for you to arrive? I wonder what you were doing.) 

It goes on, 'We recall the Apostle's Creed, which says 'He descended to the dead.' It is a day of suspense between two worlds, that of darkness, sin and death, and that of the Resurrection and the restoration of the Light of the World.'

Suspense indeed. A no-man's-land. Christ has died, but Christ has not yet risen. We wait. We are holding our breath. 

And also, I didn't know that, '...for this reason no divine services are held until after the Easter vigil begins that night.'

Funny, that. I had only commented this morning that there should be something at church today to fill the gap. To save me from the feeling of blankness. Empty day. Limbo-day. Since that very first Easter people who love you have felt the oddness of today. The emptiness. 

There's something more powerful, though. Tomorrow you rise again, all over again. We celebrate and we sing and we lift our hands in praise and worship to the Risen Lord. We celebrate your resurrection. Back from the dead. But it's also the beginning of something totally new. 

'This day between Good Friday and Easter Day makes present to us the end of one world and the complete newness of the era of salvation inaugurated by the resurrection of Christ.'

You changed things.

Nothing was the same any more.

You cleared the way so that we could approach your Father. You redeemed us. You paid the price so that we were not held responsible for all the rubbish that had piled up and blocked the way from us to you. That first Easter Day was the first day of the new order. The first day that things were different.

The Era of Salvation. 

So something momentous happened yesterday. Something momentous happens tomorrow.

Today we wait. We feel the absence of you. Today we hold our breath in suspense. We get ready. 

Come, Lord Jesus. We're waiting at the tomb.  

Edited and reposted from 2011


  1. It's so good to read something like this on Easter Saturday. Your writing moves and inspires. Thank you :)

  2. How well you capture the sense of in-between space here, Helen. It can feel like a day to hold breath in anticipation for the morrow when all is celebration and joy. Or a time of suspended animation, a wondering and pondering. What actually happened? A day of mystery here too. Thank you for sharing all these elements and more. Bless you :)

  3. Thank you Helen. This gives a great sense of the emptiness they must have felt on that first Easter. I can't even imagine how hard and confusing that day must have been. I love the question about what they did. Was it their normal Sabbath routine, or had Jesus already ruined that for them?

    Thank you Helen.

  4. Yes, there's a sense of 'hiatus' on the Saturday, you're right. A good post. Thoughtful.


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