We’re almost at Easter! But, not yet. We have one more day to go.  Today – Holy Saturday … the precipice between yesterday’s tragedy of Good Friday and the triumph of Easter Sunday that enters in after the Great Vigil of Easter this night. 

The end of a difficult week is in sight for countless people around the world observing Holy Week. But we’re not there – yet. We’re not at the end of Holy Week. This day, known as Holy Saturday, is one last nudge – one final reminder of the fragility of the human being.

And this night, in the liturgy of the Easter Vigil, hope and possibility are ignited. Holy Saturday might be likened to a “Morning-After” situation. The “Morning-After” when the worst thing that could possibly have happened, happened. Like …
~ when you received the devastating medical diagnosis
~ when you were fired
~ when you realized that a brutal war was happening
~ when you realized you had to self-isolate
~ when your spouse confessed to cheating
~ when you were at a great party and woke up with a doozy of a headache and learned that you had driven your car the previous night and had injured or killed someone
~ when the nightmare of yesterday was real – your beloved spouse or child or parent died and you realize it actually happened and was not just a bad dream
~ when you discovered your dreams about a special job or school or retirement were shattered.
~ when you discovered fire or a tornado, hurricane, war had ravaged your home and there was nothing left – no photos, no computer, no important documents, no clothes, no furniture, nothing

We likely all have a story we can relate to when we were ‘beyond-beyond’ comprehension. And if we can’t think of anything, living this life each day, with the threat of chemical/nuclear, cyber war; another COVID strain which may result in shut-down again; the everpresent threat of climate change – is our ‘Morning-After’ and it’s difficult to see very far into the future.

Our Holy Saturday morning experience is similar to the disciples when they couldn’t see beyond the tomb of Jesus; when they couldn’t see beyond the reality of His crucifixion and death.

The Holy Saturday of long ago …the Holy Saturday of today … have similarities.

So today, between tonight’s Holy Saturday sunset and tomorrow’s Easter Sunday sunrise, we wait – keep vigil – and observe the Great Vigil of Easter. The liturgy of the Great Vigil of Easter begins in darkness. Then a fire is lit and symbolically brought into the sanctuary/home by a candle. 

As the service of prayerful watching continues, Scripture is read, prayers are offered, the Exsultet is sung, holy Baptism or the Renewal of Baptismal vows happens, and the first celebration of Holy Communion begins the glorious Season of Easter … with light throughout the room/sanctuary along with joyful music, colourful flowers, great smiles and the exuberant shouting of “Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!” by all who are present.  A sense of unbridled joy fills hearts as the wilderness of Lent, the Cross, the empty tomb move us from death to life.

In these days, when images of death fill the airwaves and people are still deeply concerned about the future, we can’t be with others to share the good news that “Christ is risen,” what then?

Why not do what we did at 7:00 pm each night at the beginning of the pandemic — give thanks and celebrate front line COVID19 workers who staffed hospitals and ambulances, worked in essential stores and truck and pharmacies and medical offices?

Let’s sing out loud in our homes, our streets. Let’s bang our pots and pans. Let’s joyfully proclaim Easter is here! The Great Vigil of Easter is over!   We are not alone.  Hope is alive.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen. He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

© June Maffin