I have a lot of family memories and traditions edged in my brain surrounding Easter. It started with Lent and some ashes. It included making a lot of Easter bread, meat pies and ‘Pastiera di Grano’ (a breakfast version of Italian cheesecake with wheat grain). It also included wearing a spring dress and hat complete with white lace socks and black patent leather shoes as we visited our Godparents and other Italian relatives.
Over the years, I have a better understanding of this ‘pre-Easter’ season than I did as a youth. In my head Lent was about ‘giving up stuff’ – like chocolate or popcorn or whatever my vice at the time was. If I was honest, my motivation was purely to lose 10 pounds before the Easter feast. Today I see this time as much more about digging even deeper in my faith by reading one of the gospels and reconnecting with who Jesus was and is and what His sacrifice meant and means today. You don’t need to get ashes to do this, but some people like a visual marker to begin this season.
Of course the finale of the Easter Season isn’t just Easter Day. It begins with Palm Sunday (yes I still remember dad soaking those palm leaves to make special crosses) and includes Holy Thursday (complete with the Last Supper and the washing of the feet), finally reaching the solemnness of Good Friday before the celebration of the Resurrection Sunday (or Easter). I was always sad for people who only showed up on Easter. I wondered…did they really understand the cost of the Cross? And if not, how does Easter seem so exciting?
I think for many people the cost of the Cross became abundantly clear with the viewing of The Passion of Christ. After watching that there is no denying the emotional and physical cost that Jesus went through that day. The cleaned up version of Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount or the one in a white robe on Easter is much easier to think of. But sitting in the tension of Good Friday and Easter Sunday is the dreaded Saturday…the waiting season.
And 2,000 years later, Saturday is still the hardest day for me. I know more every day the cost of my sin and am grateful more and more for the price Jesus paid on my behalf for my salvation, so each new Good Friday draws me closer to Him. I like celebrating the victory on Easter Sunday and I look forward to celebrating that for eternity on the other side of Heaven. But Saturday is a rough day. It represents the seasons and times where God seems silent…where Hope seems gone, where the Enemy seems to be winning, and when doubt creeps in. Especially if it’s something I have been waiting for God’s redemption or answer on for weeks or months or even years. It is in those moments I hang on more quietly but more fiercely to God. So in this Easter season if Saturday is seeming like a long day (week, month or year), be encouraged that I am praying for you. And Sunday WILL come. He has not forgotten us. He is Risen!
Renée Rizzo, CEO/President