We did it. Lent will officially be over in a little less than three hours. The darkness lasts for only a little while longer. Tomorrow is a glorious day. Death does not have the final say.
But before that happens, I want to take a minute and reflect. Today is Holy Saturday, the forgotten day between Good Friday and Easter. My wife referred to it last night as PrEaster and I can never unhear that (now you can’t either!). It is a day that we Christians tend to skip over. Today I went about business as usual – I played disc golf, made french toast, ate chicken parm for dinner, and watched Jesus Christ Superstar on YouTube. I’m sure that many of you did the same.
I have a theory about that. We are okay with celebrating Good Friday because it’s focused on the cross, the key to our salvation. Easter is obviously worth getting excited about because Jesus is alive, hallelujah! But Holy Saturday is that awkward in between. Jesus died yesterday and he rises tomorrow. Our joy was taken away yesterday and our hope won’t be realized until tomorrow. It is darkness. It is sorrowful. It is empty.
We, as joyful American Christians, don’t want to sit in that. We want to be sad for a moment and somber in recognition of all that Jesus went through for us and then we want to skip right to the good part, the victory. We don’t want to feel the hopelessness that the disciples felt on that Saturday. We don’t want to experience the nightmare of realizing that everything we believed in was untrue. We want instant gratification, not the messy struggle of Holy Saturday.
Holy Saturday is the destination of Lent. It is the summary of the whole journey. It is one day of waiting, one day of giving up, one day of holding back from our tendency to just move on to the happy part of the story. Holy Saturday makes us wait for Easter in the same way that Lent has been making us wait these past 40 days. We are forced to sit in darkness just one day more, and it is the darkest of all days.
When I was in high school, our leaders planned a Tenebrae service for the church. We held the service on Good Friday and to summarize it, we walk through Jesus’s last hours beginning at the Last Supper and with every Scripture reading, we blow out a candle. At the end of the story, when Jesus is laid in the tomb, the room goes completely dark, and the service ends. Those who are dedicated to the practice can choose to fast from the time of the last candle being blown out until the Easter celebration on Sunday morning. It was this service that made me appreciate the darkness of Holy Saturday and forced me to meditate on the importance of both Good Friday and Easter. It was the first time in my life I ever fasted and I’m saddened that I didn’t do so this year.
I bring this up because now that Lent is almost officially over, there is nothing I can do to change it. We have arrived at our destination and the journey has concluded. It was not perfect journey by any means. I did not do some of the things I hoped, such as finish a book that I started reading or limit my interactions with social media. One reflection that I will take with me into next year is that I need to set my goals in stone. The two things I demanded of myself were the coffee fast and this daily journal, and by all accounts, those were both successful. I missed two days of journaling and I had coffee on the second day on Lent before I completely committed to it. My other big regret was what I just told you – I need to take Holy Saturday seriously.
I don’t know what this next year holds, but one thing I’m so grateful for is this first Lenten journey. I will get to look back on these posts in the years to come and reflect on how truly crazy this time was. The personal change, the political drama, and oh yeah, a nationwide lockdown due to a pandemic. This was truly a Lent to remember.
So get your best clothes ready and get a good night’s rest. We all have virtual church gatherings tomorrow to celebrate the universal good news that Jesus has been resurrected! There is hope for this world, even in the middle of this chaos, that sickness and death do not have the final say. Tomorrow, God wins.