Holy Saturday is about waiting, which the Bradford 2025 bid knows all about - Toby Howarth

Today is Holy Saturday. It falls between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and it’s about waiting.


Waiting without knowing what’s going to happen.

Holy Saturday points us to the heart of what waiting is about: we wait for something or someone when we care about them, when we love.

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Waiting often involves vulnerability when we can’t control what we’re waiting for.

I was in Haworth last Saturday on my day off, walking up and down Main Street.

There’s always something to see on Haworth’s Main Street. This time it was a pet duck that someone was taking for a walk on a lead.

But I also bumped into a friend who was clearly deeply agitated. He was waiting to hear the results of the Leeds - Watford match.

He wasn’t able to watch the game and he couldn’t concentrate on anything else (even the pet duck).

All he cared about was how Leeds was doing.

He didn’t know and he couldn’t control the outcome.

What we wait for and how we wait betrays what we really care about. A number of Jesus’ friends and followers were women.

They had watched as Jesus was crucified by the Roman soldiers.

Most of Jesus’ male disciples had run away when he was arrested, but the women had stayed with him at the cross until the bitter end.

As devout Jewish women, they could not work on shabbat, the Sabbath day.

Instead, all they could do was wait, grieving, until shabbat was over and they could bring the funeral spices to anoint Jesus’ body in the tomb.

For many of us, the last couple of years of COVID have been a powerful lesson in accepting what is beyond our control, whether that’s been our ability to see loved ones, or even to keep them alive. Just having to wait and hope and pray.

There must have been lots of people who had seen Jesus die on that first Good Friday who weren’t that bothered.

Just as there were lots of people walking up and down Haworth’s Main Street who couldn’t have cared less about Leeds United or even football in general.

In Ukraine and across the world, we are waiting. We don’t know what the end of this barbaric invasion will look like or what it will mean for Europe more widely.

Refugees waiting for their paperwork to come to the UK don’t know when they will be able to return or whether they will ever see again the loved ones they left behind. Many refugees in theUK from Afghanistan and other places of conflict and oppression are still waiting in hotels and temporary accommodation.

But, whatever the outcome, the waiting reveals what we really care about. Is cheaper oil and gas more important to us than a Ukrainian defeat and horrific war crimes?

In Bradford we are waiting. We’re waiting to know whether Bradford will be selected as the UK’s City of Culture for 2025.

We’ve made it to the shortlist, which in itself is a great achievement and the result of a lot of hard work.

We’ve dug deep into our communities and into our creativity to put the City of Culture bid together. Not just what we often think of around art, music, dance and poetry but including cars and desert bars.

Yet after all that work, at the end of the day, it’s a decision being taken not by us but about us, and we’ll only know at the end of May if we’ve won or not. We just have to wait.

In this time of waiting for that result, waiting and not knowing, I am noticing how much people care. We care because we care about the Bradford District. We know how much becoming City of Culture will mean for all of us.

Putting our city and district on the map for all the right reasons.

The visitors, the inward investment. The boost to culture and all that culture means for our sense of identity across our richly diverse communities.

Whether or not we get the result we want, that care and that love remains.

Manchester United fans will remember the Champions League final of 1999 in Barcelona.

Imagine you were a MUFC fan who was fed up being a goal down as the final whistle approached.

You couldn’t wait and you left the stadium early to avoid the crowds going home.

If you had done so, you would have missed Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s injury time goals that spectacularly turned it all around. You would have missed death and resurrection.

Mary Magdelene waited with her grief right through Holy Saturday until she was able to stumble through the dark to Jesus’ tomb in the early hours of the following morning.

It was love that held her in her waiting, in her grief and in her powerlessness.

It was love that enabled her to be the first witness to what she then discovered.

I would tell you what happened on that first Easter morning, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow…

Dr Toby Howarth was consecrated as Bishop of Bradford in York Minster on October 17 2014.