Holy Saturday tends to get lost in the hubbub between Good Friday commemoration and Easter Sunday celebration. We spend Holy Saturday hiding chocolate eggs and hammering out the details for Easter Brunch. But when we do that we miss something important: we live on Holy Saturday. Theologians call it the “already/not yet” in which the kingdom of God has come but not yet in its fullness. Where is Jesus? When is he coming back? And on the really dark Holy Saturdays we ask: Did he really rise? Did he really die? Did he even come the first time?
Of course you’d never know that these questions get asked by looking on the thin veneer of much contemporary Christianity which conveys the impression of happy clappy leaps from victory to victory. A visit to the local Christian bookshop confirms the suspicion where the section on “Victorious living” can swallow up all the books on grief and depression, and still have ample room left over for a dusting of theology and church history.
A precious few Christians do get to leap from victory to victory. Indeed, it seems some people are blessed enough to spend their lives in one triumphant leap from Palm Sunday to Easter smiling all the while until they pass away in their sleep, surrounded by loved ones, old and full of years. I’m happy for them. But most of us find ourselves spending more time on Holy Saturday than we’d like. Like the disciples dejected, confused, and beaten down, we find ourselves up the alley of despair.
To those of us locked into Holy Saturday for a day, a year, or even the better part of a lifetime, I offer a fitting soundtrack from the maestro of the maudlin and the doyen of the depressed: the Father of Christian rock, Larry Norman. So today listen to some classic depressive songs by Larry as you reflect on all the Richard Corys and Eleonor Rigbys out there, not least because you might be one of them.
“Hard Luck and Bad News“: We’ll begin our foray with this playful, bluesy number from the album “Something new under the Son” about a person who (probably) has it worse off than you.
“Lonely By Myself“: Next, we turn to a haunting paean in which the singer laments, “It’s such a lonely life, I almost cry each night, cause fate has put me on the shelf.” “Lonely” appears on the album “So Long Ago the Garden” which is the second album in Norman’s famous triptych and the one which symbolizes Holy Saturday.
“Shot Down“: In “Shot Down” we hear of the attacks one gets for being a faithful disciple of Jesus. And, ironically enough, we hear how those attacks often come from within the church. “They say I’m sinful, backslidden, that I have left to follow fame. But here I am, talkin’ ’bout Jesus just the same.”
Other great Larry Holy Saturday songs include “I’ve got to learn to live without you,” “Pardon Me,” and the delightfully direct “I feel like dying”.
Welcome to the Christian life. Welcome to taking up your cross. Welcome to rejection, depression, and the dark night of the soul.
Welcome to Holy Saturday.