This Easter, churches in Singapore (and in many other countries) will still be unable to gather as an entire congregation due to safe distancing guidelines.
The thought of an empty church building on Resurrection Sunday is painful, isn’t it? But looking back to the very first Easter that started it all, it didn’t start with all fun and joy either.
On the very first Good Friday weekend, Jesus’ disciples were also staying in and hiding away out of a very different kind of fear.
They stayed in and locked their doors, just in case the religious and political authorities who crucified Jesus would come after them next (John 20:19).
Imagine what they would’ve been feeling then. The sorrow of Jesus’ crucifixion, the shock of Judas’ betrayal and the uncertainty of what lay ahead.
Traditionally, Silent Saturday sits between Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified, and Resurrection Sunday, the triumphant day He defeated the grave.
For the disciples then, that particular Silent Saturday was probably spent in doubt and worry, on top of fear. Doubting whether Jesus would survive that violent death that they’d all witnessed. Worried about how they’ve all scattered away from Jesus in His last moments despite their claims to never forsake Him.
And while Jesus told them before that He would surely rise again (Mark 9:31), it hadn’t happened… yet. They didn’t have the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise just yet. And they waited .. and waited… and waited.
For contemporary believers, Silent Saturday is also known as “living in the not yet”.
It’s like the cliffhanger right before the grand finale. Fear continues to consume us. Doubts and worries still plague us.
The entirety of our lives here on this side of Heaven is actually a very, very long Silent Saturday.
There is a deep longing in our souls, even as believers, for something more. Something ahead.
How much more?
How long more, Lord? (Psalm 13:1)
I don’t know how you’re dealing with the pandemic.
Perhaps you’re in deep grief over the sense of normalcy that you’ve lost. Or you’re breaking down from the stress of the new routines you’ve got to take on.
How much more, you ask God. How long more?
In the midst of tragedy that surrounds us, there are days when God feels distant, absent… and silent. There seems to be an unbearable amount of waiting to be done in this period.
Waiting for the day COVID-19 gets stamped out of our horizons. Waiting for the day that churches are allowed to open fully again.
Waiting, waiting, waiting.
Waiting in fear, waiting in silence, waiting in sadness.
But here’s the thing – the disciples were sad, but only for a little while.
“Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy,” Jesus said. (John 16:22)
Jesus very quickly appeared in their midst and they were overjoyed when they saw Him (John 20:20). Jesus did what He said He would (John 16:16). He defeated death and rose from the grave – triumphant!
The silence that straddled between death and life was broken, and out of that came eternal hope and peace. Our greatest joy is ahead of us.
So then, what do we do on this very long Silent Saturday?
We hold fast to what Jesus has done on the cross for us. We remember that the valley of waiting we are in right now is truly temporal. And we look forward to not just the end of COVID-19, but the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise of eternal life with Him when He returns again.
So while we may be sorrowful for this period of time, let us also rejoice (2 Corinthians 6:10).
As I look forward to the day we can all gather in church again to worship and lift His name up high, I know that my soul looks forward to something even greater – the return of our King and life eternal with Him.
Churches may be empty this Easter, but so is the grave – forever.
FOR MORE PASSION WEEK STORIES:
- How are you doing in this valley of waiting?
- What can you rejoice about in the midst of sorrow?
- What does Jesus‘ work on the cross mean to you?
- What does living victoriously look like?