On the pilgrim way: The relief of Easter Saturday
This past Easter, I found myself relishing Holy Saturday more than Easter Day and I have been wondering what that was all about. In my local church, nothing happened that day (although the flower arrangers were there in the morning doing a lovely job).
Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services were, rightly I think, emotionally draining. As I entered again, on Good Friday, into Jesus’ last hours, I felt sure that I was not being called to do anything – but just to be there. In the words of a meditation we use: “Let your God love you.” However, later that morning, our town centre church offered the usual hot drinks and biscuits to the 300+ Christians who had been on the walk of witness; I was certainly doing then – and that was good too.
The problem with Easter Day is that its good news is beyond words. I was leading worship this year and I felt the burden of trying to express the inexpressible: Lots of alleluias, tambourines for the children, a procession and a dramatic reading of the Easter story. It might have been easier to be “lost in wonder, love and praise” if I had not been leading the worship. I rather envied cathedral worship – imagining the voices of wonderful choirs soaring up to those magnificent ceilings – and a priest reading the well-tried liturgy for the day. I expect the reality is often more mundane.
So, for me, this year, Holy Saturday was such a relief: No church services and, instead, all the nicest, most ordinary things about a Saturday. Although we are long retired, we still have tea in bed on Saturdays because it is a “day off”. We went shopping and had hot cross buns. I cleared part of the garden I had been dying to get at and discovered so many new things growing that I did not remember planting. My husband cooked a lovely meal and we had a quiet companionable evening together.
Was it a relief just because there were no church services? It is not just the young who stop going to church and never seem to miss it – many people in middle life and older do so. As one of those who have to work quite hard to keep the local show on the road, did I secretly wish I could just walk away from it all?
My honest answer, I am glad to say, is no: Holy Saturday was not like that at all. It was just because it was sandwiched between the painful, humbling recognition of the depth of God’s love for me and for the world, and the certain hope of the Easter victory of life over death, that I could relax and enjoy Holy Saturday without reservation. It was a taste of what perhaps every day could be. As the poet, George Herbert, calls it: “Heaven in ordinary”.
Sheila Maxey is book reviews editor for Reform
This article was published in the June 2014 edition of Reform.