This is the “day between” of Holy Week. It’s called Holy Saturday – rather generic sounding compared to Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, or Easter* Sunday – probably for lack of a better name. Waiting Saturday, Nothing Saturday, Between Saturday. None of those is particularly exciting. What this day it really is, though, is another day in limbo.
Here we stand, stranded between death and life, nothingness and Paradise. Yesterday they killed the Christ. Tomorrow he’ll be back, but few were expecting it then and I’m not sure how many of us, even those who claim allegiance to Him, live as if He ever emerged from behind that stone.
What about today?
The past is gone. Who knows what the future holds? Our faith tells us it’s an eternity with Jesus. But here in limbo, that future is sometimes hard to put much stock in. The world doesn’t help us in our struggle to be faithful. It can be a brutal place. Heaven, a place of peace and joy, feels more than a lifetime away.
This is when I turn to the poets for help. One of the truly great ones was singer songwriters Mark Heard. Sadly, Mr. Heard died at only 40 years of age, but during his brief sojourn here he wrote songs that put into words and music sentiments that I’m unable to otherwise express. His song “Another Day in Limbo” inspired the name of this post, captures the feelings on this day, and pretty much sums up life on this terrestrial ball. He sings:
Faith like a kernel rising up in thermals
Hope springs eternal every once in awhile.
Yup, that says it. Every once in a while, we’re filled with the belief that a rush to the tomb will be worth it. It will reward us with hope and relieve our despair. But most of the time, we hang around the upper room, our sense of expectancy crucified along with Him. The limbo surrounds us like a dense fog, or even more like clutching fingers.
We cling to the promise that, as Tony Campolo is fond of saying, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.” We desperately hope that one day we’ll wake with the other criminals in Paradise with Jesus.
Mr. Heard finishes:
Beckoning fire from Heaven
Everything seems so stone-cold
Beating the drums of change
Another day in limbo.
Meanwhile, we beat the drums of change, waiting for fire from heaven to melt the hearts of this stone cold world. Every now and then, we see it happen: a loving gesture, a word of forgiveness, sacrificial generosity, unassailable truth, unconditional love.
Then we know. Limbo isn’t forever. It’s Saturday but Sunday’s comin’.
*I’m not crazy about the name “Easter” for this holiday because of its pagan etymology. I generally refer to it as the more accurate and evocative, “Resurrection Sunday”.