I was rather surprised by something I read in a prayer diary this morning: on a day when the earth fell silent, stunned by the dark events of Calvary…
Because the whole point of Holy Saturday is that most of the world was, and remains, completely indifferent to the suffering of Jesus. Today as Christians prepare for Easter Day, the rest of the world is going about its business, quite unconcerned. Today is a day to catch up with the family, or watch the football, or do anything you do on any other bank holiday weekend. Yes, there might be this small bunch of weird people called Christians who will be going to church tomorrow, but frankly, they are just a small minority.
And this to me is the real point of this awkward pause between Good Friday and Easter Day. It’s a reminder that we are singularly out of step with the world, that we live with different values and with a different perspective. That’s what Jesus meant when He told His disciples: you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.
The trouble is, we don’t like being different. We would much rather fit in and rejoice when everyone is rejoicing, we would much rather be enjoying the Bank Holiday weekend than engage with the serious business of death and resurrection. But Holy Saturday causes us to stop and reflect on what all we have learnt from the season of Lent. For come Easter Day, the message Jesus gives us is to go and tell others. We cannot stay in the desert, examining ourselves in solitude and silence. We have to become involved in the world, but willing to live by a different rhythm and a different calling.
And as always, it is Jesus who must set the pattern for us. That’s why as the season of Lent ends, I want to focus on Jesus’ return from the desert in Luke chapter 4. For when He returned and began preaching in the synagogue in Capernaum, He astonished His hearers with His agenda (Luke 4:18-19), an agenda prepared by His forty days of prayer and fasting. To me, it’s a reminder that we cannot simply leave Lent behind and move on to the next part of the church calendar. Rather we must allow the lessons of Lent to keep on moulding and shaping us, and we will need to keep on drawing on a discipline of prayer and reflection to faithfully live out the calling we have received.
Because the truth is, as we heed Jesus’ command to go, we will find ourselves radically out of step with the world around us – just as Jesus was radically out of step with His audience in Capernaum. Their reaction which led to their attempts to throw Him over a cliff points to the ultimate fate Jesus would suffer – of hostility, of rejection and of death. And the path we will follow as we will leave Lent behind will involve a cross for us as well.
That’s what we need to ponder as we rest on Holy Saturday, in preparation for the coming day.