As a good Baptomatic-Methodyterian, Catholo-Protestant Christ-Follower, I tend to view the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday as the "half-time" of Holy Week. (The sheer fact that I mention the terms "Good Friday" and "Holy Week" means that I am ecumenically oriented, which places me on the "dubious" list of my purely Southern Baptist friends.) Nevertheless, I find myself on this Saturday morning wanting more from this 'half-time' respite.
A quick check of my favorite though dubious resource, "Wikipedia", draws a picture of this Saturday in dark terms. My Roman Catholic friends call this day 'Holy Saturday' or 'Black Saturday'. The chancel is stripped bear and the administration of sacraments is severely limited. Holy Communion is only given as Viaticum to the dying. Altars are covered with black. It is a grave day, a solemn day. For my Orthodox friends, a sunnier disposition is held. It is called 'Holy Saturday' or 'Great Saturday' even 'The Great Sabbath'. In the Coptic (Egyptian) church it is called 'Joyous Saturday'. It is on this day that Christ 'rests' in the tomb from His work and the day in which He, by the Spirit, performs the "Harrowing of Hades" - the descent to hell where Jesus frees the captives! Woot!
Either way you look at it, as good Postmodern Baptomatic-Methodyterian Catholo-Protestant Christ-Followers, we have some choices to make about this day. Personally, I appreciate the point my Roman Catholic friends want to make, but I choose to celebrate the day as my Orthodox brethren do, as 'Joyous Saturday'. In days of darkness, such as ours tend to be at this time, the 'Joyous Saturday' approach communicates better in a consumerist culture. Having clarified my theological preference, let me make a different statement:
We live in Holy Saturday.
As contemporary Christ-Followers, we live our lives between the cross and resurrection. Jesus gives us the example of the cross and the hope of the resurrection. We share in His sufferings in the hope of His resurrection. In this sense, we live between Black Saturday and Joyous Saturday. We live between the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim. Mount Ebal being the mount of curse and Gerizim being the mount of blessing (Deuteronomy 11:29). Alan Lewis's book, Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday does a superb job of exploring this relationship.
How does this serve us as Christ-Followers today?
This day causes us to pause and reflect on our "In-Between-ness." As participants in the whizzy-go-fast Western, Postmodern culture of our times, we become frustrated when life doesn't produce an immediate answer to our questions or fulfill our every desire. Black Saturday reminds us of the profound sacrifice of love that Christ made on our behalf. Joyous Saturday reminds us that He has set the captives free from sin and death; and yet, both remind us that we live in the "almost, but not yet." Christ is the example and hope. We suffer with Him and yet one day will live with Him. We are forgiven and empowered, yet not quite resurrected.
If we understand this "in-between-ness" as the nature of our existence, then each and every day becomes a choice between Gerizim and Ebal. Each and every day is an opportunity to live joyously and wisely. Each and every day is a celebration of life in the midst of death.
Tomorrow, Christ-Followers around the world will proclaim the resurrection of Jesus as truth. I will be one of them. But Holy Saturday begs the question: Why wait?