Here’s part of the email devotional I wrote for our church folks to email them today:
Today is Holy Saturday
We often forget Holy Saturday. We sometimes treat it like an blank day in our Holy Week liturgy. It’s often a day of Easter Egg Hunts with our favorite kids, grocery shopping for an Easter feast, or a spring Saturday with the usual Saturday activities.
But in the Christian tradition, we remember two things on this in-between day.
First, we remember the disciples. They did not know what Sunday would bring. They were scared. They were lost. Everything they had put their hope in seemed to be over. Their Lord and rabbi was dead, his body entombed in a borrowed grave.
Holy Saturday is a day for all who find themselves sitting with the disciples today. It is a day for those who mourn, those who don’t know what comes next for them, and those who have lost their reason for hope. We know this truth: God had not forgotten or forsaken the disciples…but they felt forgotten and forsaken just the same.
If you have ever felt this way, or if you currently feel this way, know that this does not put you beyond God’s reach, and you have a home in scripture. You sit in good company, with the ones Jesus chose to be his closest disciples and friends.
The Second thing we remember today is the Harrowing of Hell. In Christian theology, this is the day we recognize Christ’s victorious descent into hell between the time of his crucifixion and resurrection, as he brought salvation to those who had lived and died before this day.
Any time we say the Apostles’ Creed, we mark the Harrowing of Hell with these words: “…(Jesus) suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell. On the third day, he rose again from the dead and ascended into heaven…”
The tradition is based on scripture:
“For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison,who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight people, were saved through water.”
1 Peter 3:18-20
“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.” 1 Peter 4:6
Holy Saturday is a day that we remember there is nowhere we can go that is beyond Christ’s victorious reach!
Readings for Holy Saturday
Why, O Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In arrogance the wicked persecute the poorâ€”
let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.
For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart,
those greedy for gain curse and renounce the Lord.
In the pride of their countenance the wicked say, â€˜God will not seek it outâ€™;
all their thoughts are, â€˜There is no God.â€™
Their ways prosper at all times;
your judgements are on high, out of their sight;
as for their foes, they scoff at them.
They think in their heart, â€˜We shall not be moved;
throughout all generations we shall not meet adversity.â€™
Their mouths are filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
under their tongues are mischief and iniquity.
They sit in ambush in the villages;
in hiding-places they murder the innocent.
Their eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
they lurk in secret like a lion in its covert;
they lurk that they may seize the poor;
they seize the poor and drag them off in their net.
They stoop, they crouch,
and the helpless fall by their might.
They think in their heart, â€˜God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it.â€™
Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;
do not forget the oppressed.
Why do the wicked renounce God,
and say in their hearts, â€˜You will not call us to accountâ€™?
But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief,
that you may take it into your hands;
the helpless commit themselves to you;
you have been the helper of the orphan.
Break the arm of the wicked and evildoers;
seek out their wickedness until you find none.
The Lord is king for ever and ever;
the nations shall perish from his land.
O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek;
you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear
to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed,
so that those from earth may strike terror no more.
Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish,
saying, â€˜I called to the Lord out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
You cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
Then I said, â€œI am driven away
from your sight;
how shall I look again
upon your holy temple?â€
The waters closed in over me;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped around my head
at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me for ever;
yet you brought up my life from the Pit,
O Lord my God.
As my life was ebbing away,
I remembered the Lord;
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
Those who worship vain idols
forsake their true loyalty.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Deliverance belongs to the Lord!â€™
Then the Lord spoke to the fish, and it spewed Jonah out upon the dry land.