My favorite Christian holiday season is the Easter season. There are lots of reasons for that. For one, Christmas has become too dazzling, too spectacular, and in all honesty too much work for me to really enjoy. Easter is a gentler holiday. It doesn't take much preparation. It comes at a time of the year when everything in nature has been dormant, gray, and inactive for many months. It arrives at a time when nature is re-awakening after a long dreary winter.
The Easter season: Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday - three days. Just enough time to reflect, recharge, re-prioritize, and re-connect with family and friends.
The events that happened on what we call "Good Friday" were not good at all. That day was full of hatred, violence, envy, murder, hypocrisy, and evil. The only "good" thing about it is that Jesus died for our sins - thence the name "Good Friday." But even in remembrance, it's always a somewhat sad day. We contemplate the mock trial and humiliation, the beating, the painful walk along the Via Dolorosa, the hours that Jesus suffered on the cross, the sadness and the confusion of those who were close to him, and our own sins that caused the need for so much suffering.
In contrast, Easter is the joyful day of celebration that Jesus did not stay in the grave but rose again to conquer sin and death! It begins with our cheerful declaration that "Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!" We've repeated it so many times that it becomes almost taken for granted. Families gather to celebrate over the Easter meal. Kids find baskets full of cheerfully colored Easter candy and hunt for Easter eggs. Bunnies and chicks abound. It's a day of relaxation, celebration, and sometimes excess, though not on such a grand scale as Christmas has become. It's a fun and happy day.
Holy Saturday comes in between these two extremes. After once again reliving Good Friday, the day of death, evil, and sadness, Holy Saturday has a calmness and an ordinariness about it. Our emotions may still be stunned by the awful events leading up to and culminating in the killing of God the Son. In fact, all the conditions that led up to Good Friday continue in our world today. The world is still full of hatred, violence, envy, murder, hypocrisy, and evil, and there is still much sadness and suffering. Our emotions are stunned and confusion runs rampant.
Amidst and in spite of all the chaos around us, after Good Friday, we go back to our routines. We attempt to resume normal living - we shop, cook, clean house, talk to our neighbors, go to work, take care of our children, and carry on. Holy Saturday is just a normal day like all others. But for those of us who are Christians, we are carrying a secret inside of us. Even though it seems that the world has fallen apart around us, we have a quiet sense of hope and expectation. We have a peace about us. We have a joyful sense that something big is about to happen, and we do not despair.
And this is how we live our lives. We know that mankind is evil and there will always be sadness, evil, and death in the world, but we also know Christ has died for us and risen again, and will some day return to set up His kingdom on earth. We know our sins have been forgiven, God loves us, and we can live our lives free from the fear of eternal death and condemnation. We know if we fall, God forgives us and is there to help us back up. Jesus has not yet returned to earth, but he will some day and that will be the day for celebration. We carry a joyful peace inside us, despite the chaos that is going on in the world around us. The world may think we are deluded, but we are carrying a hopeful secret. We do not despair.
We live our lives between the crucifixion and the triumphal return of the Messiah to the earth to reclaim his own. We live our lives on Holy Saturday.