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Thought for the weekend: Don't overlook Holy Saturday

Allen Sleith, Hillsborough Presbyterian Church

One of the most fascinating features of the New Testament gospels is their timeframe. There's very little about the first three decades of Jesus' life other than a few vignettes. The three years of his public ministry receive more attention.

Most striking of all is that the last week of his life occupies roughly the final third of the gospels, making clear the relatively greater significance of these key events in Holy Week.

In other words, the crux of Christ's earthly mission, the hinge of human history itself, as Christians claim, narrows down from three decades to three years to three days - a final climactic spell during which Jesus was betrayed and abandoned by his followers, was unjustly tried by a kangaroo court, underwent a state execution, was buried in another's tomb and was raised from death on the morning after the Jewish Sabbath.

Christian tradition has called this temporal sequence, running from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, the triduum - those unique three days in which the world's salvation was accomplished.

Today is Holy Saturday, a date that many in the church overlook almost entirely, never mind a wider world that couldn't care less.

It's the day in between Jesus' crucifixion on the Friday and his resurrection on the Sunday, the day in which God's suffering servant lay dead, buried with sinners or even the ungodly, as Isaiah prophesied.

What, if anything, is to be said or done about this surreal day in which a dead Jesus could only be but the focal point of all the nightmarish despair engulfing his followers to the point of spiritual suffocation?

What I've done this day for several years now is to read some portions of a stunning book by Alan Lewis called Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday.

Perhaps you think there's nothing of significance about this day, if you've ever even paused to ponder. But Lewis argues otherwise: "The non-event of the second day could after all be a significant zero, a pregnant emptiness, a silent nothing which says everything."

It's the day when our very worst is about to be answered by God's very best, the cusp of a new creation.

Belfast Telegraph


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