Holy Saturday, or the Easter Vigil, is the seventh day, the day Christ rested in the tomb. In the synoptic accounts this day was clearly the Jewish Sabbath, which provided the early church with appropriate symbolism. The day is meant to be a quiet one since today the church remembers Christ dead and waiting for the great day of resurrection. There is no communion served on this day in Church history. It is also meant to be a day of darkness and remembrance. In a world of darkness we remember that there is no future without the hope which is linked to Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.
Traditionally the vigil allows the Church to remember those who have departed and who wait, with us, the resurrection. While Good Friday is traditionally a day of fasting most do not fast on this Saturday. However Christians observe this day Holy Saturday has always been a time of reflection and waiting, a time of weeping that lasts for a night while we await the joy that comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
In the earliest days the Easter vigil was primarily a means to prepare new converts for baptism into the Christian faith, which was usually done on Easter Sunday as the focal point of the entire year. Over the years I baptized more people on Easter Sunday than at any other time. I have deep and wonderful memories of these special occasions.
Many Protestant churches celebrate the vigil just before sunrise on Easter morning, ending it with a sunrise celebration of the resurrection. It really makes no great difference how this tradition is practiced but it matters to me that it is practiced. I was again prompted to worship the Lord this evening pondering deeply his death for me. The service did not end but continues tomorrow morning with the sunrise celebration. The return of light is the symbol of the resurrection. The service tonight ended with "The Great Commotion," a rumbling of sounds that reminded us of the earthquake that shook Jerusalem on that momentous eight day.