How do you experience Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday?
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and in the Christian tradition this day marks the beginning of Holy Week – which concludes with celebrations of Good Friday and Holy Saturday, then followed by Easter Sunday. In the years prior to a good understanding of evolution, parts of Christian tradition held tightly to an assertion that humans were all born into sin and therefore not in right relationship with God. Further asserted was the fact that Jesus, the central figure of Christian tradition, needed to give his life as a sacrifice in order to redeem humanity from sin and thus repair our broken relationship with God – who was ‘loving’!
With this understanding, Good Friday was the tragic day on which Jesus actually died for humanity’s sins. The day after Good Friday (the Jewish Sabbath and day of rest) would eventually be named by Christian tradition as Holy Saturday. The day after Holy Saturday (the third day of the Christian Easter weekend cycle) would be called Easter Sunday to celebrate the day upon which Jesus was said to have risen from the dead after having paid the price for humanity’s sins.
With the world evolving, and science continuing to provide improved insights and understandings of how life evolves, the stories of our religious traditions must also evolve and be updated if they are to continue to hold relevance. My understanding and appreciation of the Christian holy days of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday was expanded a few years ago when a United Church minister and theologian, the Rev. Dr. Edward Searcy contended that Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday represented stages of life which we all experience. In fact, Searcy upheld that we live in cycles of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday experiences.
Good Friday represents our more difficult, troubling and sometimes darkest moments of life. Good Friday moments can occasionally hurt very badly. Good Friday moments can stop us in our tracks, leaving us numb and with little or maybe even no idea of what to do or where to turn. Few can avoid having Good Friday moments in life.
Holy Saturday represents that period of time following our Good Friday life experiences. Holy Saturdays are undefined periods of time. They can be different from person to person. Holy Saturday time, said Searcy, is something that needs to be honoured, respected, valued and not rushed – if we are to move forward in any kind of positive way from one of life’s Good Friday experiences. Holy Saturday is an important process we need to go through and ideally with the care and support of others.
Easter Sunday represents those potentially restorative outcomes arising from healthy Holy Saturday times. Easter Sundays represent moments of renewed hope and restored resolve for continuing the journey of life. Easter Sundays represent moments of profound peace and renewed belief in tomorrow’s possibilities. Sometimes Easter Sundays represent unexplainable moments of joy or happiness caused by something or someone unexpected. Easter Sundays are experienced more often after having truly given ourselves over to appropriate Holy Saturday periods of restoration, recovery and renewal. Easter Sunday moments can be experienced in lots of different ways.
How do you experience the Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday moments in your life?
Jim MacDonald serves in ministry with
the congregation of Central United Church –
an Affirming Ministry and Community Peace Centre Partner