What Are You Doing This Saturday? … Hello Weekend Musing readers. Yes, you have received a short Scripture UPlift for this Holy Saturday. In my musings of Holy Week, this day called ‘Holy Saturday’ and a lot more names as well, is intriguing to me. So join me in a short history of this ‘day in-between’ and you may find some new things about Holy Week, people, and of course, Jesus himself!

The season of Lent gives us a time of self-examination and thoughts working up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Then it ends on Holy Saturday eve. Many Christians observe Holy Saturday. PhD & Jesuit priest Bruce Morrill, at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville shares: “This Saturday is typically a day for quiet reflection and preparation for the celebration of the resurrection. Some faiths, such as Roman Catholic and Orthodox, hold evening services, which are the most important of the church year in their denominations. For others, it can be quiet prayer and meditation.”

What do people do on this day? Families prepare for Easter Sunday. For example, families with a Polish heritage fill a basket containing eggs, ham, bread, sweet breads, horseradish, lamb cakes or butter lambs and bring them to church to be blessed on Holy Saturday. On the island of Corfu in Greece, people toss clay pots out of windows! In some parts of Latin America, an effigy of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, is burned. Some Protestant faith traditions also hold large baptism services on Holy Saturday. While most don’t hold a night vigil, they may meet for sunrise services at dawn on Easter. The idea parallels the notion of vigil-keeping and waiting for the light to dispel the darkness, such as other denominations that, in the evening, hold a vigil service an hour after sundown. It’s a nocturnal watch that retains ancient roots in expectation and waiting for the resurrection.

And let’s not forget the idea of not eating meat and fasting are optional but encouraged on Holy Saturday for some faith traditions. These devotions are an act of penitence to raise awareness of Jesus’s self-sacrifice and love.

This is just a short version of how the world embraces Holy Saturday. So, how about us? What are we doing this day? Yes, getting the eggs cooked and colored, colorful baskets to hold goodies, and preparations for Easter Sunday’s meal are part of our heritage. But do we stop and wonder what Jesus is doing and just where He is?

In the Apostles Creed it says “He descended into hell”—what does that mean to you? Many have understood those words to mean that Jesus Christ, between his death and his resurrection, went locally and physically into hell, into the underworld; others say he went to proclaim his victory over the condemned souls in hell; others say he went to liberate Old Testament saints from their limbo; and others say that he went to offer those residents of hell a second chance at salvation.

The problem with all of these explanations, as well as the idea of a local and physical descent into hell, is that there is no teaching of Scripture that supports it! Remember what Jesus said to the thief on the cross: “This day, you will be with me in paradise.” So, why do we say these words in the creed? There is a lot of bickering about this answer, but the one I learned in church and in seminary is: “when we say ‘He descended into hell’ it means that Jesus Christ was buried and continued in the state of the dead until the third day. It’s a way of reminding us that Jesus, as second Adam, as a human being, truly did die and lay in the bands of death until he burst them at the resurrection. And because of this, our death on earth takes us to life immediately with Jesus!”

Holy Saturday is a sacred day—one much more important than other Saturdays. Why not use this day for prayer, meditation and contemplation on the love of Christ who gave His life for us. In fact, doing so points us to our great hope that Jesus the Christ, having tasted death, has conquered death in victory in the resurrection, not for himself only, but for all of His people. As we look to the grave, unless Christ returns first, we know with full confidence that this grave has already been conquered for us by Jesus; and we have resurrection hope that not even death can take away from us. This is a Holy Day indeed my friends, one that gives us hope and a future now and forever! AMEN.