Un-sandwiching Holy Saturday: Reclaiming the Discipline of Waiting


Holy Saturday tends to gets sandwiched between Good Friday and Easter. I want to make the case that it is actually quite important.

It is, at its essence, about waiting. Christ’s disciples were awaiting persecution by the Romans and rabbis. We now are await the return of Christ. It is about waiting in limbo, in between stages, caught in the middle of the death of Good Friday and the life of Easter.

It is, thus, an apt metaphor for this earthly life. As Christians we have died to our old selves, but we are awaiting final and complete renewal. All of this-worldy life is a proactive waiting for the restoration of the earth, and while things do proactively bring that about, it is still a waiting. We are, in a way, in a perpetual mood of Holy Saturday, strung out between death to ourselves and complete renewal.

The tendency, in our modern culture, is to strive to hasten the coming of the Kingdom and shorten the waiting time. This is in a certain sense a biblical desire, for he taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” But we sometimes get caught up in how we are going to execute on our well-intentioned plans (and sometimes wreak more harm than good), and forget that ultimate salvation and renewal lies outside of man.

What’s  interesting to note is that Christ died just before the Jewish Sabbath started and he resurrected after it ended. That means that on Holy Saturday the disciples were keeping the Sabbath; the overriding theme that undergirds the laws of the Sabbath is that people are not supposed to create. God rested from creating, and so should humans. Not only were the disciples waiting, they were not creating. In the mean time, while they were not creating, God was quite busy re-creating and renewing humanity. The disciples wake up and ironically realize that God has crafted a new creation and a new order. One of the rhythms we might do well to partake in on Holy Saturday – or any Saturday – is the discipline of waiting that is founded in trust in God’s creating.

Sarah Ngu

Sarah grew up in Malaysia and California, and is now a freelance writer in Brooklyn, New York. She is an alumni of Trinity Forum Academy and Columbia University.