Holy Saturday – April 3

Digital Version of Devotional

Author Chad Hyatt

John 19:38-42

Whether it is because of disease or racism, political chaos or the disruption of so many ways of being community, we have experienced profound, almost overwhelming loss this year. If we are to find wholeness, we must find a way to grieve. Grief is the hidden gift— perhaps the unwanted gift—of these holiest of days, as we move from the cross to the resurrection. Sometimes we want to move so swiftly from death to the raising of the dead that we scarcely pause to pray.

But I’m not entirely sure we can sing again our joyful songs of Easter unless we stop to tend to the bruised depths of our hearts. Worship without grief—praise without lament—drifts perilously close to something so superficially shallow and hollow as to hardly be fit to call worship at all. Scripture invites us to praise God with our whole being; grief makes sure that all of me is present. It’s clear, both from common sense and from Scripture, that the crucifixion of Jesus was a major trauma for those who followed him. Some hide together, while others isolate. Some find their way to the tomb. Grief is what we do when we don’t know anything else to do in the face of loss—when we can’t do anything else, really. That’s what I like about the Gospel for Holy Saturday: here are people doing the little things they can—caring, burying, maybe even just doing the next right thing, going through the motions because there’s nothing else to go through. They couldn’t stop Jesus’ arrest, torture, and execution. They can’t raise the dead. All they can do in that moment is bury their friend—together. Perhaps in our rush to resurrection, we forget that Jesus really and truly died. If we don’t grapple with Jesus’ death—and feel the connections to our own experiences of loss and trauma—then the resurrection itself loses some of its power to heal us. I invite us to find a place this Holy Saturday for our grief. It doesn’t have to be long or drawn out, nothing extravagant or burdensome. But have the courage to bring all of yourself to worship without shame or guilt. Don’t despise your doubts or fears or feel you need to pretend that you’re not angry. If you feel like you have nothing to feel, that’s okay, too. Grief is about finding and bringing your whole self back to the table after loss has ravaged what used to feel certain. We don’t have to put on a good face or play the hero. All we have to do is just be. And that’s more than enough.

Prayer Lord, today I grieve what we have lost and trust you to heal us.

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