Holding the Tension of Holy Saturday

Rachael Clinton Chen and Dr. Dan Allender have a poignant conversation about making space for the tension and grief of Holy Saturday. In the protestant Christian tradition, the movement from Good Friday to Easter Sunday often bypasses Saturday—the day Jesus “spent time before the face of evil itself.” How then do we engage the reality of Holy Saturday, to sit well in the space between the despair of Friday and the joy of Sunday?

A word repeated throughout their conversation is the triduum. The triduum is the three days—Friday, Saturday, and Sunday—that begins the evening of Maundy Thursday and ends on Easter Sunday. Holy Saturday is a day that leaves us with complex questions and a bit of mystery, which is one possible reason why it is not often talked about in the church. However, it is a day that bears much weight and one we cannot ignore—we must not move too quickly to Sunday without making space for the lament and grief that needs to be expressed.

“Jesus, like us on Saturday, is in some sense the place of terror and horror, and that I think is the experience of a level of silence and numbness that we know to be part of all forms of trauma.” Dr. Dan Allender.

“What does it mean that Jesus actually surrendered to this place on our behalf, and what does it mean that we have a great High Priest who has gone before us in all ways, who is the one who intercedes at the right hand of the Father?” Rachael Clinton Chen

“Holy Saturday has become a day that I make space to tell the truth about the places of despair—where I trust Jesus is able to get into the pit with me, and is not asking me to climb out of the pit on my own.” Rachael Clinton Chen

“That ability to hold tension is to me what Saturday is about—it holds the horror and terror of Friday and the glory and playfulness of Sunday. We can live in this tension knowing that we can bless this because there is something being formed in us in the middle of that agony, that we will be able to join with those who were in despair but hold the hand of those who are celebrating goodness and be able to link the two worlds together if we can bear something of the weight of what Saturday holds.” Dr. Dan Allender


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