Holy Saturday. A day of silence and remembrance. The stillness within the tomb. The horror of the crucifixion behind us as we await Resurrection Sunday.
It seems to me that for the Christian, a season of grief is very much like an extended Holy Saturday. It is that liminal space between creating precious, beautiful memories with loved ones that last an earthly lifetime and the anticipation and boundless joy in seeing them again in eternity with Jesus. What an amazing gift.
This year, Easter Sunday falls on the two-year anniversary of my brother Larry’s passing.
It has been a little bit of an emotional week as for some reason, some of the tougher memories of that last year have been bubbling up. If you are at all acquainted with grief, you learn that memories-good and bad-can be triggered from the smallest of things. And then if you are like me, you focus on the good ones-the playful teasing, the many hugs and prayers, bickering as kids, receiving just the right bit of wisdom when you had a tough decision to make, or holding hands- heads bowed in prayer, perhaps for the last time.
One of the memories that has been resurfacing this week is the day I learned of my brother’s diagnosis three years ago. It was on Good Friday, and it was not a good diagnosis. I later went to a very somber and powerful Good Friday service that evening, and I remember wailing in the sanctuary afterwards while a close friend sat with me silently, her hand on my shoulder. I am not by nature a dramatic person-I do not like to create drama or experience it-but it had only been a few hours earlier that I had heard the news and I was so overwhelmed with unexpressed emotion that I cried out to God. This is one of the more painful, but also more precious memories, as there was no better place for me that evening than with my spiritual family. It was God’s perfect provision and timing.
My faith journey started to gain traction when nearly a decade ago, this spiritual family found me. It was shortly after Larry had suggested I read the Gospel of John in the Bible. I had a ton of questions and he knew I was having trouble believing even though I had been a spectator of his faith journey for years. As adults, he also did not always agree with my life choices but he always loved me. And he prayed for me always. Reading this Gospel gave me hope, and it was a good place for me to start.
It is not necessary to “move on” leaving those we love behind, but it is possible to move forward, carrying those precious memories with us as we rest secure in the Lord’s goodness and in the knowledge that we will see loved ones again. This is the power of the Resurrection: that those who put their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, will be raised again with him and reconciled with the Heavenly Father and with those believers who have gone before them. It is not because of what we do; it is because of what he has done for us. We can rest secure in the Lord’s goodness as we grieve, knowing we are never alone in our suffering. We rest in the knowledge that we will see our loved ones again.
On Holy Saturday, we hold our breath in the tomb, patiently and expectantly waiting for Sunday when Jesus broke the chains of sin and death forever for those who believe.
This is my prayer for all of you reading this today: that you would look forward to the future with much anticipation and that you would come to experience God’s grace. I am experiencing this now because of the faith I have in Christ, because of what he did for me. This is one of the many prayers my brother prayed for me. After all that we had been through together, it was his dearest wish for me.
I am thankful that today is Easter Sunday. He is risen. He is risen indeed.
Photo credit: Eskemar