It may sound strange, but I find this day in the liturgical calendar more comforting than any other. Don’t get me wrong: I love Christmas. I love Easter Sunday. I also love Reformation Day, Good Friday, and Pentecost. But this day, when Christ rested in the tomb I find to be the most reassuring.
When I was about 21 my grandmother, my mom’s mom died. From what we could gather, she died peacefully in her sleep. I was especially close to this grandparent, and it was in facing her death that I started to really consider my own mortality.
Do you remember the movie The English Patient? I’ve seen a lot of movies since then, but no image of loneliness and fear has ever gripped me like in that movie. Toward the end, the hero sets out on a journey to rescue his heroine, but the situation is dire. They are out in the desert, far away from civilization, hospitals, or people who could come to their aid. But the heroine has an injury to her leg, and she cannot travel. So he leaves her in a cave with a candle, some water, and a promise that he’ll return.
I wish I could say it had a happy ending. It doesn’t. She dies, alone, friendless, in the dark before her hero comes back for her.
It’s that kind of fear that stalks me at my lowest times. What will it be like to be put into a coffin, all alone, under the ground? How will I face that most terrifying experience of the human condition? Will I be left all alone?
It’s into this scene, Holy Saturday makes its appearance. Jesus, God’s own Son, was buried in a tomb, dead and decaying, alone, forsaken. Knowing that makes all of the difference. Jesus went through all aspects of human existence, including bitter death and lay in a grave, just as I will someday. I will not go into my casket alone. I go with my Savior, my Shepherd who has always cared for me, and will also in death.
My favorite, favorite hymn, which I wish we sang on Holy Saturday is “Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart,” especially verse three:
3. Lord, let at last Thine angels come,
To Abram’s bosom bear me home,
That I may die unfearing;
And in its narrow chamber keep
My body safe in peaceful sleep
Until Thy reappearing.
And then from death awaken me
That these mine eyes with joy may see,
O Son of God, Thy glorious face,
My Savior and my Fount of grace,
Lord Jesus Christ,
My prayer attend, my prayer attend,
And I will praise Thee without end.
Rejoice this Holy Saturday–not only because Easter is coming, but also because you can be sure that in your most dire, your most difficult of all experiences, you will not be alone. Your Savior walks with you, through the shadow of death, into life eternal.
On Holy Saturday, many families will make these cookies to give kids a visual understanding of the resurrection. I’ve heard about them before, but never tried them. Here’s a link to a blog post about these cookies and resurrection rolls. They can give a more spiritual understanding of the Easter holiday. This recipe is found all over the internet, but this one came from Kids’ Cooking Activities.
Maybe they’ll be a good option for you!
Easter Resurrection Cookies
1 cup pecan halves
1 teaspoon white vinegar
3 egg whites (room temperature for best results)
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 300°F degrees. This is important to do before starting to allow the oven to warm up. (you’ll understand more as you read through the recipe)
- Place the pecans in a plastic freezer bag. Let your child break the pecans into small pieces by beating them with a wooden mallet or rolling pin. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, Roman soldiers beat him. Read John 19:1-3
- Have everyone in the family smell and taste the vinegar. Add 1 teaspoon vinegar to a bowl. Explain that Jesus was offered vinegar to drink while He hung on the cross. Read John 19:28-30.
- Add the 3 egg whites to the vinegar. Discuss with your child that eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave his life in order to give us life. Read John 10:10-11
- Sprinkle a pinch of salt into your child’s hands. Allow them to taste a tiny bit and shake the remainder into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers. Read Luke 23:27
- Gradually add 1 cup of sugar to the bowl while beating ingredients on high with a mixer. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know we belong to Him. Read John 3:16
- Beat the mixture with a mixer for 12-15 minutes until stiff peaks form. Peak will stand straight when beaters are removed. Share how the color white represents purity and how Jesus can cleanse us of our sins. Read Isaiah 1:18
- Add the nuts and fold in gently. Drop the mixture by teaspoon on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Explain that these mounds represent the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid. As evening approached, a rich man came from the town of Arimathea. His name was Joseph. He had become a follower of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Read Matthew 27:57-60
- Put the cookie sheet in the oven. Then close the door and turn the oven off immediately.
- Give your child a piece of tape to seal the tomb (oven door). Explain the fact that Jesus’ tomb was sealed. Rad Matthew 27:65-66
- Go to bed! Explain that your child may feel sad to leave the Resurrection cookies in the oven overnight. To a much greater extent Jesus’ friends were sad when He died and was placed in the tomb. Read John 16:20 & 22
- Do not open the oven until the following morning. Allow your children to examine the Resurrection cookies. They will form small mounds and have a cracked side. When the children taste them, they will discover that the cookies are hollow representing that on the first Easter, Jesus’ friends were surprised to find the tomb empty. Read Matthew 28:1-9