Average. Middle ground. Rock and hard place. Much of the time, between isn’t so much a chosen destination as a necessary compromise, or even a place of imminent danger. Often, it’s not where you want to be (think of between jobs)–but not always. Occasionally (Oreo cookie, anyone? Key lime donut?) between can be delightful, or at least worthwhile, and it’s not unusual that between offers space to rest, recuperate and reflect. Case in point: the Saturday between crucifixion and resurrection.
About this ‘second day’, the Gospels tell us nothing directly, leaving only hints: some women are busy preparing for a proper burial of Jesus; some disciples are planning a trip to Emmaus; the Eleven are holed up somewhere in Jerusalem, waiting for the authorities to burst in. An ancient creed intones that this is when Jesus preached in Hades (but not all agree with this reading of 1 Peter 3, and not all agree that this affirmation is original to the creed). But despite the silence or conjecture, the day is not accidental; it serves a purpose.
It’s a good day to settle in on that tricky theological notion of ‘already/not yet’ which defines so much of the Christian experience. Already–the crucifixion has happened: the sacrifice made, love poured out, obedience demonstrated, divinity exemplified. Not yet–resurrection is before us still, because while we know that Jesus is out of the grave (it’s history, and we’ll celebrate it tomorrow, as we have done for years) we are still waiting for the fullness of resurrection in all creation.
We need time and space between Golgotha and the empty tomb to process what happened and what’s yet to occur; we need a day to face sorrow, lean into hope. Saturday links both, so that we can revel in, be moved by, render praise for each. We need between.