Holy Saturday is a quiet, somber day any year, but even more so this year. This morning I read in Matthew about the laying of Jesus’ lifeless body in a tomb and sealing it closed with a large rock. The Spirit of God brought to my attention verse 61 of Matthew chapter 27. “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.” I could imagine them sitting together in silence, too emotionally spent to speak. They watched the dead body of their beloved master and teacher being laid in a cave and sealed away from them. It was Friday evening and so close to the start of their Sabbath at sundown that they couldn’t even properly prepare the body for burial with spices and ointments. They had to wait. So they sat across from the tomb and waited and watched in silence until the last possible minute when they had to rush home and be still to honor their Sabbath.
On this Holy Saturday in the midst of a pandemic I feel like those Mary’s. I am waiting and watching. I am emotionally spent by walking with Jesus in the events of the last week of his life, by keeping vigil with him yesterday as he went to the cross. And I am emotionally spent by 27 days of isolation and anxiety and uncertainty. God keeps calling me back to sit in silence with him like the Mary’s. Keep still and silent while he is at work.
When the Mary’s went back on Sunday after the Sabbath to properly anoint Jesus’ body for burial, their world was turned upside down. Nothing would ever be the same for them now that Jesus had been raised from the dead in a glorified resurrection body. For them, and for all of creation, the world was a different place than it had been three days earlier. They would now live differently, have a new hope, a new allegiance, a new purpose.
From Friday evening until Sunday morning, the Mary’s were in the great pause. During Holy Saturday we are in the great pause. During the coronavirus isolation we are in a great pause. But this is a gift, an opportunity for a reset, for the world to be a different place than it was at the beginning of this year. All the truths of how we live are being brought to light, even the earth itself is vibrating less. This is a sacred opportunity to get rid of the junk in how we live. I pray that our “resurrection” when the isolation is lifted will not be business as usual. I pray that for me, for us who follow Jesus, the world will be turned upside down as it was for the Mary’s, that we will live differently, and have renewed hope, renewed allegiance to Jesus, and renewed purpose.
The heart and soul of our society has been traumatized during this time of coronavirus. People will come out of the isolation and the shutdown vulnerable in a whole new way. May we have ready feet like the Mary’s to run and tell the good news of Jesus with love and compassion like we have never before shown.