Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday

This is the second post from a year ago that I am re-posting this week. Interestingly, thanks to the magic of search engines it’s already the most viewed post of the day, with more than 180 unique views – and it’s still morning in the states. “Holy Saturday” originally appeared March 30, 2013. The last line still gives me chills.

It’s Saturday, the day before.  And I just came in from the Easter egg hunt.

For some reason it happens every year on this day, the day before Easter.  Every church I’ve ever served has done it exactly this way.

Right now the park across the street from the church is teeming with happy children, watchful parents, and even a few smiling (“isn’t this wonderful!”) grandparents.  I talked with just about everyone, and everyone I talked to seemed to be having a good time, even a few of the older children who have aged out of the actual hunt and are being asked this year for the first time to hide the eggs, instead of hunting for them.

But there’s something odd about this day too – and something odd about having an Easter egg hunt on this day.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but hearing people say “Happy Easter!” on Saturday feels strange.

I keep thinking, “No, no, no, not yet.”

We Protestants don’t have a well-developed theology of Holy Saturday.  Our Catholic friends could probably tell us a thing or two about this day and what it means.  And yet, maybe there’s something we could say about today, the day before.

I’m sitting at my desk now about to put the finishing touches on my sermon for tomorrow.  I’m hoping it’s a good one too, because there are few things worse than having to preach a sermon three times that you know (after the first time around) is a turkey.

So, I’m feeling a sense of anticipation and a twinge of nervousness and a pinch of fear.  And that, I suspect, is what this day is really for – getting ready for what’s going to happen tomorrow, living with the nervous excitement, knowing (but not knowing) that Easter will be better than anything we can imagine right now.

In just a few hours the stone will be rolled away.

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.

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7 Responses to Holy Saturday

  1. Georgia Hamilton April 18, 2014 at 12:30 pm #


    I suspect if it weren’t for a lengthy choir practice on Holy saturday, I would feel at ‘loose ends,” Instead, it’s a time of anticipation and perhaps some anxiety about ‘getting it right’. This time of preparation only increases my excitment about Easter and it’s promise!

    I say again “Christ is Risen.!”


    • Doug April 20, 2014 at 3:07 am #

      He is risen indeed!

  2. Laurie Fuller April 18, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

    You are so right about the Catholics, my daughter Pamela and my grandbaby Kayla have moved to the Dominic Republic and she told me that today they do nothing but pray to God and the whole island is silent, no children being loud. I understand this now, been very quiet today too. Happy Easter Doug to you And your wife.

  3. Fred Anderson April 19, 2014 at 11:05 am #


    As you know, I share your concerns about the secularization of Holy Saturday.
    If your are interested, see what I said in my pastoral lectionary reflections for today at http://www.mapc.com, especially the first lesson from Lamentations.

    There is no gospel lesson appointed for today, and that is not accidental.

    And while the secular world tries to avoid the reality of death by moving from the Hosannas of last Sunday to the Alleluias of this by hunting eggs named after a pagan goddess of fertility–how many did you have in your Good Friday service yesterday?–our Lord lies in a tomb.

    • Doug April 19, 2014 at 11:17 am #

      Thanks for the response, Fred. And I must say, you never disappoint. I did not know that there is no gospel appointed for the day, and that’s telling. The good news exists only in the anticipation and hope.

      Our turnout on Good Friday morning – thanks for asking – was surprisingly good, given the hour (we share space on Good Friday with the Anglicans) and given the cultural forces arrayed against us.

      As a pastor it’s tough to know how to respond to things like Easter egg hunts, especially when they represent years of tradition and therefore years of expectation among young families. But to greet each other in the park on Saturday with a cheery “Happy Easter!” always seemed wrong to me, always seemed as though we were ignoring the importance of the day.

      I enjoyed reading your lectionary reflections as always – and look forward to their publication in the coming year.

  4. mike April 19, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    Hi Doug –

    I remember this post from last year – that final sentence is transporting. I’ll be borrowing it to close our meal time prayer tonight to remind all at our table that – about 2,000 years ago – the whole went to bed on a Saturday night havng no idea that….

    “In just a few hours……………”

    Think I’ll use it at Thanksgiving, too. It’s a moment to be eternally thankful for.
    Thanks for reminding me.


  5. Andrea Stewart April 21, 2014 at 5:05 am #

    The church I am attending in Atlanta does the Easter Egg Hunt on Palm Sunday in order to allow for contemplation and reflection on Holy Saturday. I must say I like that arrangement far better.

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