If like me you are counted among the mass of Christians in this country, you consider these seven days among the holiest of the year.
I’ve always been a great fan of the Easter season. You slog through yet another seemingly endless winter of bare trees and gray skies thinking things will never get better, and then comes along a day upon which everything turns—your mood, the season, even history itself. Flowers begin to bloom. Trees bud. Daylight stretches a little farther. Life is called forth from death. That is Easter to me.
Church will play an important role in the Coffey home this week. On Friday evening we will gather at a building in town to sing songs of a Man who was more than a man, Whose words of love and forgiveness led to His sufferings upon a cross. It will be a somber service as far as church goes. That is by design. The point will be to put our focus on the sorrows felt by Christ on that long-ago day, as well as the sadness and fear in His followers. At the service’s end, our pastor will stand before the congregation and say,
“Go from this place, for Jesus is dead.”
The sanctuary lights will then dim nearly to dark, leaving us all to feel our way out in shadow.
It’s powerful stuff.
But what will make Friday night’s service even more powerful is the one which will follow on Sunday morning, when we will all gather once more. Gone will be the sadness and the fear, all the shadows. Then will be joy and the light of day. For He is no longer dead, this Jesus. He is risen, and by His wounds we are risen as well.
That is what we believe. What I believe.
You can hold to otherwise, and that’s fine. Plenty who visit this place do not consider themselves religious at all, and I won’t begrudge them one bit. We’re all trying to make sense of this world and our place in it. Christianity is simply the way I make sense of mine.
But that’s not really the point of this piece. What’s struck me this week is the entire range of emotions Easter offers, and how that fits into much of the time we spend in this world. Two days during the Easter holiday receive the bulk of our attention—Good Friday and Easter Sunday. One a time of utter hopelessness and faith dashed, the other a day of unending joy and a hope so real and undeniable that it came to change the world. The gospel accounts share much of those two separate days. Even if you’re not a believer, I encourage you to read them. Yet I’ve often thought something missing from the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. A hole in the narrative I sometimes wish would have been filled.
We know what happened on that first Good Friday. Know what happened that first Easter Sunday. But the Bible is silent on what Jesus’s followers felt and did on the day in between.
That Saturday—that’s what I want to know.
Because when you think about it, that’s where the majority of our lives are lived. We are not so despondent that we have come to know all we once believed as worthless. Our lives do not feel devoid of purpose. Our very foundations have not been shaken. But nor are our days filled with such hope and assuredness that we feel shot through with a love beyond any this world could ever provide.
We don’t spend most of our days in the sorrow of Good Friday or the joy of Easter Sunday. No, most often we find ourselves living in the Saturday in between. Trying to figure out what to do next, what to let go of and what to hold onto. Trying, sometimes, just to get through the day.
It would be nice to know how Mary got through that day. Or Peter or John. But we don’t.
Maybe that’s on purpose, though.
You would think something as important as that Saturday would have been included in scripture. That it isn’t would suggest that maybe it isn’t important at all.
Maybe the point here is that life isn’t supposed to make sense all the time. That all of our questions and pains are here for the purpose of helping us to grow more and better. To become. It is to embrace the mystery of our lives fully and to always be searching. Our days are so often like the end of our Good Friday service at church—just a bunch of bodies groping about in shadow, searching for a way out. That isn’t such a bad thing. You never know what you’ll find while groping about in dim light, whose hand yours will brush against or who’s smile you will meet. What cause you will find to laugh.
The point of that first Saturday is an important one, I think—hang on. Always hang on. Do your work and smile and laugh and hang on.