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Holy Saturday is the day the disciples of Jesus spent shut away in an upper room, devastated by the death of their friend Jesus, aware that in different ways they had all let him down and fearful that they too might now face arrest and even death. Holy Saturday is a day when all hope has been crushed and the mind is haunted by the unbearable questions of “what if?” and “if only…” There is an overwhelming sense of ending and no sign of any way forward; all roads ahead are blocked and there is no turning around. Perhaps because it is so unbearable we tend to try to ignore it – even Scripture gives it little attention. In churches and cathedrals it becomes a day of preparation, when the flower arrangers move in and vergers prepare the Easter vestments; a day of making ready. And as their work progresses, there becomes a sense of anticipation and expectation. But the reality is that we spend much of lives in Holy Saturday, full of loss and pain, feeling hemmed in and struggling to find any hope.  Others may speak of resurrection and new beginnings but it does not chime with our experience.  The way ahead is at best unclear and at worst seems blocked, and Easter talk seems, in that moment, just another religious platitude, and a denial of the reality of the darkness know we are living in. We can only truly understand Easter if we fully embrace Holy Saturday.  There is nothing inevitable that Easter will follow Good Friday. The dawning of Easter comes out of nothing, from nowhere; it is unexpected, undreamt of, beyond our reckoning.  To expect Easter is to fail to have grasped the experience of Holy Saturday. Easter should always come as a surprise; an unexpected gift – the discovery of footsteps in the morning dew, leading we do not know where.

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