I woke up this morning, feeling relieved. It has been a busy, hectic Holy Week. My church had three different services – one on Maundy Thursday, and two on Good Friday – each requiring a different sermon. Beyond the sermons, there were also numerous other details of the worship services to prepare. And, of course, just because it is Holy Week doesn’t mean that there aren’t still all of the other pastoral tasks, duties and responsibilities of every other week of the year.
So, this morning, I did not set an alarm. I slept in – a little. I took my time, drinking my coffee, chatting with my wife, and easing into this Holy Saturday.
I felt relieved that a crazy week was over.
I finally got moving, later than I should have, and immediately felt anxiety about tomorrow – Easter Sunday. I needed to go to church to make sure the sanctuary is ready. I started fretting about details like my clothes, my vestments, and even what I will eat before the sunrise service. And, there’s that little detail of a sermon that I haven’t had time to think about.
Relief and stress, intermingled. Strange.
At church, we had an “Easterfest” for the young families with children, including Easter egg hunts and bounce houses. It was great to see the fun and excitement. But, also strange. Is it ok to celebrate Easter while Jesus is still, symbolically, in the grave?
Liturgically, that’s what today represents. This is Holy Saturday, the day Jesus lay in his tomb – dead.
The Bible doesn’t tell us much about Holy Saturday. We know it was the Jewish Sabbath, so no work was allowed. Matthew says that the religious leaders requested that Roman guards be placed at Jesus’ tomb, for fear of Jesus’ followers stealing his body and claiming that he had risen from the dead.
And, there was that – Jesus, dead, in his tomb.
We assume that Jesus’ followers were mostly in hiding that Saturday. Surely, they were in the deepest mourning anyone can imagine. But, I also wonder if there was some sense of relief that the ordeal of Thursday night and Friday were over. I know that sounds terribly morbid. But, watching him tortured and suffering, and destined to die, had to be worse than knowing at least his terrible trial was over.
And, because it was the Sabbath, there was no pressure to “DO” anything. I wonder if they all just collapsed from the emotional exhaustion of all they had just been through.
Then again, I also wonder if they also were fearful, worried, stressed? The Jewish and Roman guards might be hunting for them. And, now, what were they supposed to do? Go home? Go back to their old lives?
I have to imagine the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday was a strange day. Relief and stress, co-mingled. Today feels strange to me, and I know how the story ends!
Now, I still need to write that sermon.