As many of you know I suffer with depression, so despite the (many, many) blessings God, sometimes I feel like I live in Holy Saturday yet everything within my soul is yearning for Easter morning.
Currently I’m in the weird place of having left the security and stability of a structured and paid role (as a pioneer vicar in Bristol) and am currently seeking to build and birth something as a ordinary ‘lay’ person who loves Jesus and seeks to follow him. This place of transition having left somewhere but not fully arrived at the desired new destination -the airport lounge or the train station cafe- again feels like I’m living in Holy Saturday of liminality.
Currently, the new monastic community and the school of mission seeking I’m involved in building/birthing feels very fragile and although there are green shoots and signs of hope I also feel and fear the size of the mountain, and feel a bit like David looking at the size of Goliath and then the smallness of the few stones. Having had many disappointments and setbacks along the way and doubts, fears and questions plague my mind this is an uncomfortable, confusing and at times lonely time. Holy Saturday is a place where past pain and baggage collide with the part of me daring to hope, believe and clinging on to God (although probably in reality he’s clinging onto me, although it doesn’t always feel this way).
Today too, I went to Southsea, where there was a job I didn’t get although I felt so sure I had heard from God that he was calling us there, actually yesterday wandering from the train station I found myself crying that I felt so called there and yet the door had been shut and just pouring out my confusion and pain to a heaven that doesn’t answer those unanswered questions that my heart was/has/is breaking over? Holy Saturday is a day when the answers don’t fully satisfy.
For me, Holy Saturday has become a day that resonates with me and the last few years. Jesus has died, it has been painful, and the resurrection hasn’t happened yet -if fact the disciples doubted it was going to happen, the only people who appeared to have any faith were the priests who feared it would happen!
Faith in God’s faithfulness and promise in a fallen, broken and fallible world is a difficult place to believe.
Holy Saturday is a place of waiting for breakthrough, it’s sitting in the hospital waiting room with a plastic cup of horrible coffee trying to make sense of the mix of emotions, past experiences and the realisation of our lack of ability to control the outcomes of situations.
Sunday does come, the light breaks through, Jesus our living hope rises from the tomb defeating death and darkness but St. John of the Cross said (or was it Christopher Nolan’s batman?): “The night is at its darkest before the dawn”.
I sometimes wonder if my evangelical/charismatic heritage rushes from Good Friday through Holy Saturday to get to the resurrection of Easter Morning failing to take in all that this journey has to teach us.
The picture of ‘the third day’ is a recurring biblical theme -and perhaps I’d suggest the place the missionary and pioneer often is forced to dwell- the third day is the day of break-through which has been preceded by a time of waiting with expectancy, but (as anyone who has been on a long drive with a small child will testify) waiting is a difficult, confusing and painful time. I often wonder if this ‘third day’ metaphor is a picture of life where we live with the pain of the fall a reality and awaiting the coming Kingdom.
So, let’s walk through Holy Saturday and learn the lessons today has to teach us for life of faith following the crucified and risen Christ.