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Essay

God rested

By March 29, 2013 No Comments
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Does the precise locus of this Saturday, at the interface between cross an resurrection, its very uniqueness as the one moment in history which is both after Good Friday and before Easter, invest it with special meaning, a distinct identity, and the most revealing light?…The nonevent of the second day could after all be a significant zero, a pregnant emptiness, a silent nothing which says everything.

Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday – Alan Lewis

On the seventh day God rested. It’s interesting to think about how the Christian community has made the connection between the sabbath day of the Old Testament and the Lord’s day of Jesus resurrection. Not that I disagree – it makes perfect biblical and theological sense. It’s just that when we get to the Easter holiday we run smack into the Old Testament configuration of sabbath – Holy Saturday. It’s a day that goes unnoticed in the protestant tradition, which might, in the end, be the best way to commemorate it. It is the second day of Easter… the day in which nothing happens. The day in which God “rests” in the tomb. 

We’ve all experienced those moments – we know that something is going to happen, we’ve been waiting for it, planning for it, we’re in many ways ready for it, only to find ourselves in suspended time. Waiting. In these moments we become consious of time, conscious of our own historical existence, we become aware of things usually taken for granted. We wait… for the word to be spoken, for the announcement to be made, for the visitor to arrive. Often, these are painful moments, anxious moments, waiting for good news in the face of tragedy or illness. But not always – sometimes they are momenets of joy and celebration that can barely be contained.

On Holy Saturday we remember that our God, in Jesus Christ, has experienced such moments. The horror and tragedy of Good Friday gives way to a day of rest, a day of waiting, a day in which God experienced a moment pregnant with anticipation. Holy Saturday is the seventh day when God rested from God’s work, when God waited for the dawning of the first day of the week, or as some in the early church referred to it, the “eighth day” of creation. Holy Satuday is the pregnant momement between the death of the firstborn in Egypt and the first steps taken toward the promised land; its the inward breath that precedes the word that is spoken announcing Good News. Holy Saturday is the sabbath of God in the truest sense, a day when God enters into the human experience of anticipation, a moment pregnant with divine possibility. 

Tomorrow is Easter. The “good news” comes tomorrow. Today… we wait.

Jason Lief

Dr. Jason Lief teaches courses in Christian education and youth ministry. A Northwestern College graduate, he served as the chaplain for Pella (Iowa) Christian High School while earning a master’s degree in theology from Wheaton College Graduate School. He also completed a doctorate in practical theology from Luther Seminary. He previously taught theology and youth ministry at Dordt College for 10 years. Dr. Lief is the author of “Poetic Youth Ministry: Loving Young People by Learning to Let Them Go” and "Christianity and Heavy Metal as Impure Sacred Within the Secular West: Transgressing the Sacred.”

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