Holy Saturday 2023 – April 08

 Holy Saturday Reflective Service


Theme:  Our new life in Christ is grounded in Jesus’ humility, service, and self-sacrificial love which he expressed by voluntarily laying down his life for every one of us.  

On this day of remembrance, Holy Saturday, we participate in Jesus’ rest, in his penetration into death itself, freeing us from all that death means for us.  And we are reminded of how Christ’s ongoing gift being poured out in our hearts by the Spirit is meant to be shared with others in their own dark times of loss, suffering, and grief, as we participate with Jesus in bringing the light of God’s grace, comfort, and healing into those places.


Psalm 31:1–4, 15–16    

In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me.   
Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily.  Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me.  

You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,   
take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.  

. . . 

15 My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.  
16 Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.  

Today we are gathered together in remembrance of our Lord’s death.  We are reminded of how Mary Magdalene and the other Mary sat and observed Joseph and Nicodemus preparing Jesus’ body for burial.  The finality of the moment of death dismayed these disciples.  What would they do now that they had lost their Messiah?



Matthew 27:57–66  

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus.  58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.  59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock.  He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.  61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.  

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, ‘Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, “After three days I will rise again.”  64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, “He has been raised from the dead”, and the last deception would be worse than the first.’  65 Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.’  66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.    




  • Thanksgiving to Jesus for being present by the Spirit, for drawing everyone together, and for reminding us of all he has done


Jesus’ body died as each of ours one day will die, and he was buried in a tomb.  In the darkness of that tomb, Jesus, having lost his human life, entered into our darkest place — deathand in that place, transformed it with his living presence.  As God in human flesh, Jesus entered into our human death and brought new life.


1 Peter 4:1–8 

Since therefore 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.  4 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 account 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.  



  • Thanksgiving to Jesus for entering death in our place, on our behalf, and bringing his hope and light into our darkest places;


Just like Jesus brought light and hope into our lives, each of us is called to participate in Jesus’ work of bringing his life into places that are dark and full of death.

Three Questions to consider:

  1. What are some areas of death, grief, loss, or sorrow that we see in our neighborhood or community?
  2. How is Jesus at work right now in bringing his life and light into these dark places?
  3. How can we as a congregation participate with Jesus in what he is doing to bring his light and life into these dark places?


Lamentations 3:1–9, 19–24

1 I am one who has seen affliction under the rod of God’s[a] wrath;  
he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light;  
against me alone he turns his hand, again and again, all day long.  

He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones;  
he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation;   
he has made me sit in darkness like the dead of long ago.  

He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me;  
though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer;   
he has blocked my ways with hewn stones, he has made my paths crooked.   

. . . 

19 The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall!  
20 My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.   
21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:   

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;   
23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.   
24 ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’   


So often death is seen as an untimely and unwanted end.  But in Christ, death has been reforged into a time of new possibilities.  We participate individually and as a congregation in Jesus’ transformation of death into a place where the potential for new life is present and real.

Today, after participating in this gathering …

  • What might the Spirit be prompting you individually to do as a participation in Christ’s work where he entered into death to bring new life?  
  • What are some tangible steps you can take in that direction?


John 17:6-19    

‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 

I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours.  10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 

11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.  Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.  12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me.  I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled.  13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 

14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.  



Thanksgiving to Jesus  for the people he brings into our lives to whom we can bring his hope and light . . . and offering ourselves up to Christ to be broken and poured out as he was.





Now may the God who sends you, sanctify you by his Spirit, keep you from the evil one, and fill you with his inexpressible joy, in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


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