A Meditation for Holy Saturday 2017

On the Other Side of Words:  A Mediation on Holy Saturday 2017

Holy Saturday, the day between the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus, in which hope and God appear to be dead and gone. This day is only rarely celebrated  in smaller churches.


In the midst of life we are in death;
from whom can we seek help?
From you alone, O Lord,
who by our sins are justly angered…

I am weary of battling against a tide of opposition that tells me I have no reason to use this calendar – the one that says Holy Saturday on it — as the fuel for my resistance to what is clearly wrong with the world, and with me.  Thus, this is no battle song; it is rather simply a report from where I am living this day in a very messy world as a not-unmessy person.

The weariness is taking its toll; but it is also teaching a lot as it unfolds. As one might think of weariness as a force to shut down action and thought, I have come, rather, to experience this weariness as a measure of how immense and insidious the forces are against which this day waits in silence. Waiting in silence before an inexorable force doesn’t sound like much of a response. It sounds more like a surrender.

Yet for all of the hard-to-exaggerate degree of discouragement over, and awareness of the too many ways in which the world and I are not as we should be, this is no surrender. Hardly.

Silly to try to write using words about a place that has no words. But, I keep on doing that. So for all that is not right about me, I know enough to know that that place, the one on the other side of Words is the place to which I go on such a day as this one. And this day, as I have commemorated it in the past, is part of how I know that place at all. It may be a place that is best described by what is not said or done on or about it. A place that becomes only more powerful when it is approached without hope, but rather mostly in the speechless condition of stunned silence that rips us open to the core, and permits only slightly audible sighs, muffled groans, slow tears, and silence.

From that place there are only doubts about human capacities to fix anything at all. It is  very clear that “we” really will not help ourselves, or anyone else for that matter, at least not without a LOT of help from various Sources, and far more wisdom than any one of us alone possesses.

There is so very much going on, on the other side of literal words, in the places between life and death, where there are such things a newness of life, and repair and reconnection of  all that is now broken and come apart.

My concern today in all of this is not about the life of “there and then”, the one that comes after this one. My concern is about the “life of here and now”, for all of us, about being a blessing to all the families of the earth.

I invite you to wait with me, if you will. To wait mostly with awareness of All that is about us. It is not magic that I hold out for. Neither is it assumed that all shall be well. It is rather, having waited in this way before, many times before, I have come to see and believe – to set my heart upon – the unexpected, unplanned for, out-of-the-blue spark of Light and Life that is there some place at the bottom of the place on the other side of words.

Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oezVulZYZjE  Palestina, Lamentations for Holy Saturday

Below is the entire Liturgy for Holy Saturday from the Book of Common Prayer for this day.


Sepulcher, by George Herbert

Oh blessed body! Whither art thou thrown?
No lodging for thee, but a cold hard stone?
So many hearts on earth, and yet not one
Receive thee?

Sure there is room within our hearts good store;
For they can lodge transgressions by the score:
Thousands of toys dwell there, yet out of door
They leave thee.

But that which shows them large, shows them unfit.
Whatever sin did this pure rock commit,
Which holds thee now? Who hath indicted it
Of murder?

Where our hard hearts have took up stones to brain thee,
And missing this, most falsely did arraign thee;
Only these stones in quiet entertain thee,
And order.

And as of old, the law by heav’nly art,
Was writ in stone; so thou, which also art
The letter of the word, find’st no fit heart
To hold thee.

Yet do we still persist as we began,
And so should perish, but that nothing can,
Though it be cold,


When there is a Liturgy of the word, the Celebrant begins with the

Collect of the Day

O God, Creator of heaven and earth:                                                                                                    Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb                                              and rested on this holy Sabbath,                                                                                                                  so we may await with him the coming of the third day,                                                                        and rise with him to newness of life;                                                                                                         who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,                                                                           one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Old Testament  Job 14:1-14



Job said, “A mortal, born of woman, few of days and full of trouble,
comes up like a flower and withers,
flees like a shadow and does not last.

Do you fix your eyes on such a one?
Do you bring me into judgment with you?

Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one can.

Since their days are determined,
and the number of their months is known to you, and you have appointed the bounds that they cannot pass,

look away from them, and desist, that they may enjoy, like laborers, their days.

“For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
and that its shoots will not cease.

Though its root grows old in the earth,
and its stump dies in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth branches like a young plant.

But mortals die, and are laid low;
humans expire, and where are they?

As waters fail from a lake,
and a river wastes away and dries up, so mortals lie down and do not rise again;
until the heavens are no more, they will not awake or be roused out of their sleep.

Oh that you would hide me in Sheol,
that you would conceal me until your wrath is past,  that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!

If mortals die, will they live again?
All the days of my service I would wait
until my release should come.”

The Response   Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16 In te, Domine, speravi



1 In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame; *
deliver me in your righteousness.

2 Incline your ear to me; *
make haste to deliver me.

3 Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe, for you are my crag and my stronghold; * for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.

4 Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me, *
for you are my tower of strength.

15 My times are in your hand; *
rescue me from the hand of my enemies,
and from those who persecute me.

16 Make your face to shine upon your servant, * and in your loving-kindness save me.”

The Epistle         1 Peter 4:1-8

Since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme. But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.

The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.

Brian Moss – Here in Between     https://cardiphonia.org/2011/04/23/songs-and-hymns-for-holy-saturday/


Here in between the death and life
Of broken God and risen Christ
We watch and wait, we kneel and pray
For hope to breathe at break of day
The temple torn by sacrifice
How can this be the way?

The Gospel  John 19:38-42

Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

  1. Homily given on Holy Saturday by Bishop Melito of Sardis

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell.

Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

After the Gospel (and homily), in place of the Prayers of the People, the Anthem “In the midst of life”   is sung or said.


In the midst of life we are in death;
from whom can we seek help?
From you alone, O Lord,
who by our sins are justly angered.

Holy God, Holy and Mighty,
Holy and merciful Savior,
deliver us not into the bitterness of eternal death.

Lord, you know the secrets of our hearts;
shut not your ears to our prayers,
but spare us, O Lord.
Holy God, Holy and Mighty,
Holy and merciful Savior,
deliver us not into the bitterness of eternal death.

O worthy and eternal Judge,
do not let the pains of death
turn us away from you at our last hour.

Holy God, Holy and Mighty,
Holy and merciful Savior,
deliver us not into the bitterness of eternal death.



The service then concludes with the Lord’s Prayer and the Grace.


About kathrynrickert

Possibly from watching the movie Bambie at the age of 6, I have had a life-long awareness that saying ONLY nice things, does not make the world just or kind. Thus, my 2009 doctoral dissertation..."Talking Back to God" , is one of the main aspects of the work I do. Always interdisciplinary, seeking connections across borders that are usually marked with DO NOT ENTER, I seek to pay attention, pray, think, create,and imagine using biblical laments, Christian worship texts, and the ordinary stuff of everyday life.
This entry was posted in God in Relationships, God in Struggle and Distress, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s