Silence. Stillness~ The Very Rev Lady Sherwood

Many people tend to ignore and skip the Church’s remembrance of Holy Saturday. No one, however, gets to ignore and skip the reality of Holy Saturday within life. Holy Saturday is that time like no man’s land which lies between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The tragedy of the sacrifice for us all by Our Lord’s crucifixion is past but the glories of our Lord’s resurrection are not yet here. We are neither here nor there. We are stuck in the middle. What was is no more and what will be is not yet clear or known to us. It may well feel as if there is no where to go and nothing to do.

Holy Saturday comes to us in many different ways but it always seems to involve death; the death of our Lord Jesus, the death of a loved one, the death of a relationship, the death of hopes and dreams. In the church calendar Holy Saturday is one day which we observe once per year. But this is often not so in life. Those of you who have suffered the death of a loved one know that you do not move from Good Friday to Easter Sunday in just one day. Holy Saturday can last months, years, or even an entire lifetime. Holy Saturday calls us to the tomb. Where else is there to go?

That’s where Mary Magdalene and the other Mary are today. Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, laid it in the tomb, rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and went away. He left. Some will do that in the Holy Saturday of life. They will close up the tomb and walk away as if there is nothing there, no possibilities for anything new. The two women, however, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, are sitting opposite the tomb. They are silent. There is not much to say on Holy Saturday. What can be said? There are no easy or satisfactory answers.

Holy Saturday is a day of silence and stillness, waiting and wondering, remembering and hoping. Perhaps that is what faithfulness looks like on Holy Saturday. There is not much to do except be present to the reality of what is, to sit opposite the tomb.

Where is Our dear Lord Christ on Holy Saturday? Reread the Apostles’ Creed. Remind yourself that on this day “He descended to the dead” or as another translation says, “He descended into hell.” Holy Saturday is when Christ descends into the hell of our life, breaking the bonds of death, and setting the captives free.

Holy Saturday is a difficult day. We so much want joy to replace sorrow. That’s not what Jesus does. Instead, sorrow is transformed into joy, the tomb becomes a womb, and death gives birth to new life. Christ’s triumph is not apart from death but is within death. Christ is trampling down death by death and giving life to those in the tombs.

The two women of Holy Saturday will become the first people Jesus greets on Easter Sunday. So we must trust in this silence and in this waiting. We must be still. Remembering, wondering, hoping and Praying.  It is Holy Saturday and Our Lord and Saviour who loves us all is at work.

Let us pray:

O Lord Jesus Christ, for our sins you endured the cross and the grave, and on the third day you rose again from the tomb.

Just as you have cleansed us from our sins by your blood, and as we are buried with you in baptism, so by your grace, let us share in your resurrection; through your mercy,

O our God, you are blessed and live and govern all things, now and forever. Amen.

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