Homily: We are Holy Saturday People
Preached at Christ Church, Alexandria, VA on Holy Saturday 2022
If you email me enough over my next year here at Christ Church, especially if I am addressing a group of you, you will likely hear or read me addressing you as “Easter people.” It is in fact, one of my favorite ways to address Christians because it centers the resurrection in our own identity. We do not only follow Jesus, we follow the risen Christ – a Christ that defeated death and reconciled us with the Father.
We, however, are not quite to Easter in our Holy Week journey. We are still awaiting the resurrection of Jesus.
Lately, I have been feeling like a Holy Saturday person. The first Holy Saturday seems like a pretty bad day for those that knew Jesus. We have the advantage of hindsight. We can celebrate Holy Saturday because we know what comes next. It is a luxury to know how the anticipation of Christ’s resurrection feels. That was not a feeling that I think anyone had back then. I think the first Holy Saturday was marked by a lot of grief, confusion, pain – a sense of loss and emptiness, maybe even defeat. Their best friend, teacher, the person they thought would bring about change was dead and lying in a grave.
And I feel like a Holy Saturday person because I, and we collectively, have experienced a lot of death over the past three Easters. Pandemic, epidemic, violence, insurrection, political instability, war, more war, natural disaster, climate change, do I have to go on? We have experienced and witnessed a lot of loss. This is unfortunately not just one preacher's story orated to make a point. It has touched every single one of you in some way.
I don’t know what we’ve been through yet because I don’t know if we’re through it, nor do I know when it will end, or how these 3 hard years will affect us long-term. I feel like a Holy Saturday person. I know a lot of loss, and I don’t know what is coming up next.
I do know one thing. We worship a God of victory. We worship a God that, because of all the pains of this world, promises resurrection and restoration. We are not stuck on Holy Saturday – Holy Saturday is the precondition of the resurrection. While Jesus’ disciples were confused and mourning, Christ was taking back every key from the enemy. Christ was actively working for the sake of salvation. This is the day that Christ harrowed hell. Holy Saturday is no passive act. It was not on the first, nor is it now.
And even better, God offers us a chance to join Him in restoring the world. Through the church, we have the authority and power to join God in coming out of this great period of loss realizing that resurrection can be experienced in our own time.
We have the advantage of hindsight. Even when we feel like Holy Saturday people, we worship a Risen Christ. We worship a God that brings the world out of brokenness. We serve a world that is broken, but we serve a Christ who makes it whole.