The part of the Holy Week story that gets overlooked is Saturday. It’s for anyone who’s ever been disappointed or let down in life. We may remember the donkey, Jesus washing rough and smelly feet and his last supper with friends. And possibly his betrayal, mockery and cruel death. But it’s what happens next, the day after Jesus’ crucifixion under Pontius Pilate, that’s got a significance of its own. It’s called Holy Saturday. The day of disappointed hope and shattered dreams. A day of raw grief.
It’s a day when Christians in Syria, in refugee camps and at a church near you will remember the disappointment, the trampled hopes of the first followers of Jesus. They’d trusted Jesus, they’d believed what he said was true and they had placed their hopes in his promises. But it had all gone horribly wrong.
For three years Jesus spoke up for the outcasts of society. He’d challenged the mighty, fed the hungry, healed the sick and brought peace to the troubled. He’d taught ordinary folk, with bills to pay and friends to worry about, that God loves and cares deeply for each one of them. He said that God hears and answers prayer, that a new day for the world had dawned.
Feared by politicians, resented by religious leaders and deserted by friends Jesus was put to a cruel death, that first Good Friday. Hope was snuffed out, dead and buried with Jesus.
On Easter Sunday the true story of Jesus will take the most unexpected turn, as his closest friends – women first and then the men who’d run in fear – meet Jesus, risen from the tomb. But this can wait.
For now, let’s not forget Holy Saturday. Disappointment Saturday. For it comes as a reminder not to forget those who have no hope, whose grief knows no end and whose plans have come to nothing. On Disappointment Saturday we pray for each one and, wherever possible, stand alongside them in compassion and service… until the light of Easter breaks through once again, for each one of us and for the whole world.
The Right Reverend Jonathan Frost, Bishop of Southampton