Today is Holy Saturday and God is dead.
It is a time of sadness, grieving and desolation.
This week is the biggest week of the church year, and lived and experienced as it should be, it is a roller coaster of an emotional journey. Sandwiched between the suffering of Good Friday and the joy of Easter, the risk is that Holy Saturday becomes little more than a rest day in the midst of a busy liturgical time, or a day of preparation and getting ready for Easter.
But maybe Holy Saturday is an important moment in its own right. This space between crucifixion and resurrection matters.
Most of our liturgy, most of our faith is a celebration of God's presence. Immanuel, God is with us. The incarnation is about God becoming one of us, becoming closer to humanity by becoming part of humanity. And it is right that God's presence with us is the primary focus of our church, our liturgy, our faith.
But what about today?
It is also the incarnation, the same incarnation of God with us, that, at this point, brings us to an intense experience of the absence of God, of a sense of desolation and separation. Today is the only day of the church year when we commemorate not God's presence, but his absence. Written into the calendar of a faith built on God's presence is a day when God is absent. It is a day of emptiness and absence: which presents a challenge we are perhaps tempted to shy away from.
Of course, we know this is not the end of the story. Inherent in the emptiness of Holy Saturday is the anticipation of what is to come. The end of the story never changes. Because of this anticipation, the absence and desolation we feel cannot equal that of the first disciples who really did experience, in the depth of their beings, turning upside down their entire existence, the Death of God; who lived this time as a moment of total absence of consolation and hope.
There is nothing wrong with anticipation. But maybe today is about more than just looking forward to the resurrection, or even back to the crucifixion. Maybe it is too easy to empty today of its meaning, by looking somewhere else or; by pre-anticipating the end of the story and denying this as a time when God is dead.
But maybe today is about stopping and looking in. Maybe today, in the midst of the preparation and anticipation for the resurrection, we need to find time to experience and in some way we don't fully understand, to appreciate the absence of God.
After all, it is this absence and desolation which makes an explosion of joy possible at Easter. It is this emptiness which creates the space for new life to be possible.