We’re not good at waiting. Wait… let me say it a better way: I’m not good at waiting. At traffic lights when I’ve got somewhere to go (which is basically all the time) to dinner when I’m hungry (which is basically all the time), waiting is not an area where I excel – and frankly, isn’t something I want to get good at.
Which makes today so important. What is this day – this Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday – what is it, but a day of waiting?
Of course, we’re able to see it that way, because we’re on the other side of Sunday. But I’m pretty sure the first followers of Jesus didn’t have the same outlook on that first Saturday after the crucifixion; instead, it looked a lot more like despair. Defeat. Death.
For they had no reasonable expectation that Saturday would be a day of waiting. I don’t think they were walking around, telling each other, It’s Saturday, but Sunday’s comin’! No. In the world of Rome, no weekend ever ended well that started on a cross.
In all my years of leadership in churches, I don’t think we ever did anything of any consequence on this day between – what we might call Uncertain Saturday. At best, it was the day to do an egg hunt for the kids – a day about candy and chocolate and sugaring-over any uncertainty, sadness, or any sense of suspense. Because, of course, with the benefit of 2000 years of history, we know how this story ends. We’re able to “get over” Good Friday as soon as it’s over.
But maybe this year is different. Maybe all the uncertainty that coronavirus has injected into our lives – the fact that we are in a forced time of waiting – means that we need Uncertain Saturday, now, more than any other Easter weekend in recent memory. With the fear and apprehension that many of us feel, with the loss of jobs and the collapse of the economy, and with the virus still spreading – we don’t have any choice. We are all living in Uncertain Saturday.
So maybe this year, more than ever, we get a sense – maybe just a glimpse – of what the first followers of Jesus felt on that first Uncertain Saturday. The doubt. The fear. The anguish. The unknown.
But what was nearly impossible for them to see, and may be hard for us to remember, is this: God is still at work. Even when we can’t see it. Even when we don’t know what tomorrow holds, God is faithful. Precisely because Good Friday did not have the last word – because Uncertain Saturday dawned into Resurrection Sunday – we are reminded that we can trust in the God who is bigger than our fears, our doubts, our brokenness & sin, and our present circumstances. Even death itself has been defeated.
And so, though it is difficult, we wait. Though we don’t know how things will turn out, we wait. And even though we are not promised that everything will work out the way we want, we are promised that God is working through all of this to bring good (Romans 8.28).
This morning I pulled out the prayer book I’ve been using during this Holy Week. And the first words were these, from Psalm 31.24: Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.
I need these words on this Uncertain Saturday. I need that hope. I need to wait in that truth. How about you?