Holy Saturday: The suspension of God

By Simon Barrow
April 23, 2011

Waiting is difficult enough when you know what you are waiting for. It is interminable when you do not. And it can be confusing and frustrating when you either do not really know whether you are waiting or not, or when you realise that what you are waiting for may very well turn out to be something quite different to what you imagine... when (and if) it comes.

All of these senses of 'waiting' have echoes of Holy Saturday - the long, long day between the execution of God and the new possibility of God - which we might term the suspension of God.

In human terms this Saturday of our lives in mostly mundane. In Christian terms it is the antechamber to an eschatological moment, the "time being" where a decisive judgement is not yet possible, nor desirable, nor appropriate. We cannot and should not force the hand of God, nor presume upon it.

But on this Saturday of suspension what we still know most certainly (however much we hope and pray for the resurgence of life) is the pain of Good Friday.

Of 'Living in the long, uncertain Saturday' I have written more here (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/14628). But of the shadow that Friday and Saturday still live under, with glimpses of light but no certainty about its arrival, is captured in this portion of a poem I have recently and gratefully discovered. It has been written by an Episcopal priest in the USA:

Holy Saturday: Waiting

The disciples disappear behind locked doors,
terrified of the sound
of Roman boots on cobblestone street.

The women weep. Hold each other.
Ask each other
“Do you remember when...?”

The children are confused.
Their suppers are late and
no one seems to care.

It is all over.

This day is dark and interminable
and it is
no Sabbath like
any Sabbath before.

The full poem, all of it © Sheila N. McJilton, may be read here: http://preacher1.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/holy-saturday-waiting/


© Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.