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Holy Saturday: Waiting, Doing, Hoping

By Charlie Osewalt | 16 April 2014

Holy Saturday: Waiting, Doing, Hoping

As we rest in the ‘waiting room’ between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the approach we have to this particular Saturday is somewhat affected because we know the end of the story: Jesus rises on the third day.

But what of those who were there at the cross? His Disciples, loved ones and family saw His death. They were sitting in both a ‘waiting’ and a ‘doing’ space that Saturday. The Pharisees hadn’t missed the message completely – they acted by placing guards around the tomb; they waited, expecting something to happen. Joseph and Nicodemus got on with the practicalities of preparing Jesus’ tomb and body. Then they waited. Still others had to have had some fear, some confusion: will we be next? Yet, all had this in common – they were all waiting, they were all doing, and they all did so in hope.

What did they hope for? For the Disciples, I’m sure it was many, many things: an answer to why their friend, their Master, the Son, had to suffer so horrifically; relief for those who were there sitting at the foot of the cross; relief for the present moment, the fears for their future. For the Pharisees, hope that this would all just die down and go away! For Joseph and Nicodemus, it was the hope of a developing faith in a man who had turned their heads and hearts.

But while their times are different from ours, their Saturday space, their hope, isn’t. We are certain that Easter is coming. The Greek word for hope is ‘elpis’. In Jesus’ time, this word meant ‘the expectation of what is sure (certain)’. Hope! They may have been in fear and doubt, pain and sorrow, confusion… yet on that Saturday they were certain that something was to happen. They were in certainty, in hope, as they waited, as they did. Waiting is itself an action.

Waiting is doing; waiting expectantly; waiting in hope.

There have been others who had hope-filled Saturday spaces – Abraham, for example, as described by Paul in Romans 4. He is our faith father. He lived, he waited, he acted, he hoped in the God he trusted. He dared to believe that God could raise the dead to life. He decided to live, not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do, but on what God said He would do. It is said of Abraham that he was “declared fit before God” because he “(trusted) God to set him right.” The same is true for us when we embrace and believe in the One who brought Jesus to life when conditions appeared hope-less. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.

On Holy Saturday, we are ‘set right’ by hope, the certain trust that God is going to do something wonderful some day. Something only he could do – raise the dead to life.

In our Saturday space, whether waiting on Him or acting for Him, let us be hope-full. Let’s not be like the Pharisees, and set out to keep Jesus in a box (his tomb). Let’s live in the hope of a new and glorious day, the hope of freedom, the hope of life in all its fullness, the hope of salvation.
Written by Charlie Osewalt and Barrie Thompson


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image by Karl Gartland, used under creative commons licence

Posted by Charlie Osewalt

Charles Osewalt is a husband, father of four children and former elder at Redeemer Church NYC. He has worked in schools for the last twenty years as principal in the Morrisanna section of the Bronx. He formerly worked as a content and curriculum specialist for Stewardship. He tweets at @charlesosewalt


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