Practicing Resurrection on Holy Saturday
As I was sitting down to write and think about what it looks like to celebrate Easter and resurrection while physically disconnected from one another, an article came across my news feed, one that quickly led to me reading more stories and articles. And quickly took my attention away from my plans.
It was about how the COVID-19 is disproportionately killing black people in our country. For example, in Louisiana, the governor recently announced: “that that a shocking 70% of deaths were among African Americans, despite making up only 33% of the state’s population.” Other articles I read confirmed this frightening trend in this already frightening time.
While some people seemed truly shocked at this news, others were grieved but unsurprised. For those who know and study the systemic racism that has been in the DNA of our country since its founding, it is not surprising that such racial inequality exists in our healthcare system and in the health outcomes of American citizens.
This does not occur in a vacuum but is tied up with all the other ways racism operates in America. It has to do with the fact that black people are more likely to be working the fronts lines at low-paying (but essential) where they are unable to work from home. It has to do with food deserts that exist more commonly among low-income people of color, that limit access to healthy and nutritious food. And it has to do with racial bias that has been well documented in our healthcare system.
And these are just a few of many examples one could give. The truth is that this pandemic has exposed already existing inequality and held it up to the light. It has made it much harder to ignore the oppression and marginalization that exists in America. People of privilege can still wall themselves off from these realities, but it is much harder to go on with business as usual and not see these glaring injustices.
As I reflect on Holy Saturday, I am mindful that for many Christians, Holy Saturday does not carry the same as many of the other Holy Week remembrances. It exists in this space between the cross and resurrection, this day where the weight of Friday was carried with no promise that Sunday would come.
As we approach Easter Sunday and prepare to celebrate the resurrection, it is easy for us as the church to fly over Holy Saturday as fast as we are able. To look upon Holy Saturday as we pass over it from above, tourists gazing down as we make our way to Sunday.
But in doing so we miss not only the importance of this day in the Christian year, but we miss a central and vital part of our call to live out the good news of God’s love and justice in our world.
Because there are those in our world for whom Holy Saturday is an ever-present reality. While some of us have the privilege of experiencing Holy Saturday once a year, others encounter it much more often. For those of us who follow Jesus on this side of the resurrection, we must be present to all those places where Holy Saturday exists year-round.
To stand in solidarity with those experiencing Holy Saturday is one way we can believe in resurrection today. We must be in solidarity with the inequality black people face when it comes to health and healthcare in our country.
We must be in solidarity with immigrants and refugees, who are relegated to the margins of our society, and who are treated as unwelcome guests for having the audacity to seek a better life for their family.
We must be in solidarity with our LGBTQ neighbors, who, in spite of small gains in protection, still face harm and discrimination far great than others.
We must be in solidarity with people who live outside and are shamed and dehumanized because of their situation and addictions.
We must be in solidarity will all those who — like Jesus was during Holy Week — are victims of state violence and oppression.
And the list could go on.
To be in solidarity with those experiencing Holy Saturday today is a commitment to stand side by side with them against the systems and structures and empires that are causing them harm. To imagine with them a new world where oppression is no more and all people are able to live and thrive together.
This is who we are called to be as the church today. Resurrection is not some ancient event we are called to believe in, it is a current reality we are called to see break into our world. This is what it means to be people of the resurrection. Because anywhere people are experiencing fear and pain and uncertainty, not knowing what tomorrow will bring, that is where the church must be.
Let us go forth from this weekend and be people of the resurrection.