presence of absence | on holy saturday

I’m learning from those around me––those I’ve interacted with in church, in the hospital, in the community, in the classroom, not to mention those I live in community with––that brokenness and mess is everywhere, seeping into cracks we didn’t even know existed. With each client that comes in my office, or each friend that sits down to the table, there is this secret notion that no one else is wrestling with the grief, the guilt, the conflict, the doubt that she or he is.

And there is a kind of comfort that flashes across faces when they learn they are not the only one, but they are one of many.

It is only a flash, though. There is a certain amount of comfort that comes in knowing our misery shares company, but then we are stuck in misery with others.

But still stuck nonetheless.

And that is where some of the magic of the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday exists. Holy Saturday, Low Saturday, Easter’s Eve: It is that day where the black drapery still hangs over the cross and the Easter lilies, unless the church staff were too eager to prepare for the bright whiteness of Sunday morning.

The silence of the Saturday seems to be the place we find ourselves in most often. We have the luxury, now, of knowing that Good Friday leads to Easter Sunday, but we sit in between the two with our fingers crossed and our noses raw from rubbing them with tear-stained tissue.

And I believe, as I interact with these men in women in my office and in the community and in the churches…I believe that God honors our tight stomachs and heavy hearts on the Holy Saturdays of our lives and worlds. We must challenge the need to jump to Easter Sunday, and honor the grief and struggle on the day before the inauguration of all things new.

Pine Tree Dr.

Switching on the lectern light and clearing his throat, the preacher speaks both the word of tragedy and the word of comedy because they are both of them the truth and because Jesus speaks them both, blessed be he. The preacher tells the truth by speaking of the visible absence of God because if he doesn’t see and own up to the absence of God in the world, then he is the only one there who doesn’t see it, and who is then going to take him seriously when he tries to make real what he claims also to see as the invisible presence of God in the world? Sin and grace, absence and presence, tragedy and comedy, they divide the world between them and where they meet head on, the Gospel happens. Let the preacher preach the Gospel of their preposterous meeting as the high, unbidden, hilarious things it is. 

+ Frederick Buechner, from Telling the Truth

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9 thoughts on “presence of absence | on holy saturday

  1. I believe you are right on in saying, “God honors our tight stomachs and heavy hearts on the Holy Saturdays of our lives and worlds.” The absence and presence of the holy are our lived reality. Thanks for the good word.

  2. Steve says:


    Can I quote form this in my sermon tomorrow. Yes, I am giving the Easter sermon at a combined service tomorrow. I have been reading your blogs, amazing stuff. Now, return my emails and let Mardy and I know everything is ok between us.

  3. Very good food for thought. We certainly need to give ourselves permission to honor our tight stomachs and heavy hearts as we walk through each day, each step of the journey – all the while holding onto the hope that we will see our love ones again. Sometimes we have a tendency to rush ourselves (or allow others to rush us) through the grief…when that’s where so much that can be learned and so much growth can happen during that time.

    As I read your blog, I started thinking about the luxury we have on the eve of Easter – a luxury that those who were there on that day – of KNOWING that Jesus rose from the dead. Those who were there had to have a whole lot of faith to believe that what Jesus said was true – when they were faced with the reality of seeing Jesus die and be buried. I am so thankful that I KNOW that Jesus died on the cross for me, and that because he conquered that death I will see Jason again.

    • Most Hopeful says:

      Thanks for your words, Rebecca. It’s an interesting thought, also, about what it is now that is just around the corner that we can’t see and don’t know, but will look back with added insight and see differently. Thanks again, Rebecca.

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