By Debbonnaire Kovacs, posted Mar 23, 2016
Every year at this time, I post a heartfelt devotion praising God for the Resurrection, not just symbol, but actual bringer of new life. This year, though, I thought I’d concentrate on the day before—often called Holy Saturday.
To Adventists, of course, every Saturday is holy. But I do feel that this one, memorializing Jesus lying quiet, resting on that which was “finished,” has even a greater touch of holiness about it.
First, it’s worth having a look at dating. Easter is not, of course, the anniversary of Jesus’ death. That was during Passover weekend which, this year, isn’t until next month. In early, virulent anti-Semitism, Easter was explicitly calculated to never fall on Passover. Emperor Constantine stated it most forcefully in his letter formulated at the Council of Nicea in 325:
“It appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul…Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd. For we have it in our power, if we abandon their custom, to prolong the due observance of this ordinance to future ages, by a truer order, which we have preserved from the very day of the Passion until the present time.” [Emphasis mine.]
Deservedly blind? Detestable? Really? Not a very Christ-imitating attitude.
The council effectively put an end to the then two-century-long Passover vs. Easter controversy by dating Easter to the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring, and—just in case—to move it a week later if ever Nissan 14 (Passover) fell on that Sunday.
Constantine was correct. They have been able to impose their dating on “future ages,” to this day. I, for one, honor and celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection around Passover.
I also believe, however, that it is a valuable thing to join with Christians all over the world in celebrating and honoring that life, death, and resurrection during the Easter season as well.
And, indeed, every day. For truly, to all earnest followers of God in any faith tradition, every day is holy.
What do you do when your hopes are shattered? I’ve borne disappointments before, some of them heart-breaking, but this—we had built our entire future lives on this! The coming of the kingdom. The fulfillment of the ancient prophecies I took in with my mother’s milk. The vindication of Israel as God’s chosen people.
He was supposed to be Messiah!
He was Messiah! He was…
All the way through the horrors of the past two days, right up to the very end, even as he twisted in agony for every breath on the Romans’ most horrific torture device, I still believed—still hoped against all hope—that he would yet come down. We saw his power! Did he not forgive and save at least two on that black afternoon?
He would save himself. He would! He had to—any minute now…
But he didn’t.
He’s still, and silent, and cold in Joseph of Arimathea’s new tomb. I’ll be amazed by that, someday. If I ever get my feelings back. Right now, I’d rather not feel.
Sabbath #1: “It is good, and it is finished.”
Sabbath #x: “It is finished. Is it good?”
I can’t tell yet.
What have you done when your hopes were shattered?
Do you struggle under shards of broken dreams even now?
Do you see hope, even in a dark, silent tomb where one Man lies, resting? Waiting…