Daily Archives: April 7, 2012

God knows our dying From the Inside

Jesus dies. His lifeless body is taken down from the cross. Painters and sculptors have strained their every nerve to portray the sorrow of Mary holding her lifeless son in her arms, as mothers today in Baghdad hold with the same anguish the bodies of their children. On Holy Saturday, or Easter Eve, God is dead, entering into the nothingness of human dying. The source of all being, the One who framed the vastness and the microscopic patterning of the Universe, the delicacy of petals and the scent of thyme, the musician’s melodies and the lover’s heart, is one with us in our mortality. In Jesus, God knows our dying from the inside.

–”“The Rt. Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, Holy Week, Parish Ministry, Theology

Upon our Saviour’s Tomb, wherein never man was laid.

HOW life and death in Thee
Agree !
Thou hadst a virgin womb
And tomb.
A Joseph did betroth
Them both.

”“Richard Crashaw (1613-1649)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Poetry & Literature

We Simply Have to Wait

This Holy Saturday we watch and wait.
What comes will surely be his surprise-
He’s working on it right now-
And we must wait for it,
There is nothing else to do.
On Holy Saturday we realize, as at no other time,
We simply have to wait.
And then it happens!

”“John Harrell

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Poetry & Literature

The Sound of Perfect Silence

The church is dark now. The altar is stripped and bare. Some are getting up and leaving in silence. Others remain kneeling, looking into the darkness. Holy Saturday is ahead, the most quiet day of the year. The silence of that silent night, holy night, the night when God was born was broken by the sounds of a baby, a mother’s words of comfort and angels in concert. Holy Saturday, by contrast, is the sound of prefect silence. Yesterday’s mockery, the good thief’s prayer, the cry of dereliction””all that is past now. Mary has dried her tears, and the whole creation is still, waiting for what will happen next.

Some say that on Holy Saturday Jesus went to hell in triumph, to free the souls long imprisoned there. Others say he descended into a death deeper than death, to embrace in his love even the damned. We do not know. Scripture, tradition and pious writings provide hints and speculations, but about this most silent day it is perhaps best to observe the silence. One day I expect he will tell us all about it. When we are able to understand what we cannot now even understand why we cannot understand.

–Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Theology

Mark Judge: The Day After

Recently an elderly friend of our family passed away after a period of grueling discomfort. At one point she blurted out to my mother, “Why must I endure this? Jesus only suffered for three hours!”

Of course, most Christians know that Jesus suffered longer than three hours, including the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging and the long climb up Golgotha. He was also, it may be argued, carrying all sin, which burdened him with a weight that is unimaginable to us.

Yet did Christ’s suffering end when he announced, “It is finished”? Holy Saturday is the time between Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, and it is one of the most dramatic, if cloudy, episodes in Christian theology”¦.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Death / Burial / Funerals, Holy Week, Parish Ministry, Theology

A Prayer for Holy Saturday (III)

O God, whose loving kindness is infinite, mercifully hear our prayers; and grant that as in this life we are united in the mystical body of thy Church, and in death are laid in holy ground with the sure hope of resurrection; so at the last day we may rise to the life immortal, and be numbered with thy saints in glory everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

Softer Quiet, Stunning Stillness

The feathers of the birds made the air soft, softer

than the quiet in a cocoon waiting for wings,

stiller than the stare of a hooded falcon.

–Barbara Ras (1949– ), “A Book Said Dream and I Do”

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Poetry & Literature

Eugene Peterson on Holy Saturday

Yet, there was one large omission that set all other truth dangerously at risk: the omission of holy rest. The refusal to be silent. The obsessive avoidance of emptiness. The denial of any experience and any people in the least bit suggestive of godforsakenness.

It was far more than an annual ignorance on Holy Saturday; it was religiously fueled, weekly arrogance. Not only was the Good Friday crucifixion bridged to the Easter resurrection by this day furious with energy and lucrative with reward, but all the gospel truths were likewise set as either introductions or conclusions to the human action that displayed our prowess and our virtue every week of the year. God was background to our business. Every gospel truth was maintained intact and all the human energy was wholly admirable, but the rhythms were all wrong, the proportions wildly skewed. Desolation””and with it companionship with the desolate, from first-century Semites to twentieth-century Indians””was all but wiped from consciousness.
But there came a point at which I was convinced that it was critically important to pay more attention to what God does than what I do; to find daily, weekly, yearly rhythms that would get that awareness into my bones. Holy Saturday for a start. And then, times to visit people in despair, and learn their names, and wait for resurrection.

Embedded in my memory now is this most poignant irony: those seven or eight Indians, with the Thunderbird empties lying around, drunk in the alley behind the Pastime Baron Saturday afternoon, while we Scandinavian Christians worked diligently late into the night, oblivious to the holiness of the day. The Indians were in despair, religious despair, something very much like the Holy Saturday despair narrated in the Gospels. Their way of life had come to nothing, the only buffalo left to them engraved on nickels, a couple of which one of their squaws had paid out that morning for four bony ham hocks. The early sacredness of their lives was a wasteland; and they, godforsaken as they supposed, drugged their despair with Thunderbird and buried their dead visions and dreams in the alley behind the Pastime, ignorant of the God at work beneath their emptiness.

Take the time to read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Theology

Lost rites and traditions of Easter, Passover have common basis: Sacrifice

Today is the first day of Passover, the most celebrated Jewish holiday, commemorating the Exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

Families and congregations gather en masse for the observances. But many look past the details, the preparations and the moments that deepen the experience.

“We feel that if you go for Palm Sunday and Easter, you miss the (sorrow) of Holy Week,” said Barbara Manaker, James Island Presbyterian Church music director. “If you experience more of what Jesus went through, Easter Sunday becomes more meaningful. Without that, you go from one celebration to another.”

Read it all from the local paper.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Judaism, Other Faiths

(RNS) What did Jesus do on Holy Saturday?

“The single argument in its favor seems to be that it has been around so long,” [Wayne] Grudem, a professor at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona, writes in his Systematic Theology, a popular textbook in evangelical colleges. “But an old mistake is still a mistake.”

Grudem, like [John] Piper, has said that he skips the phrase about Jesus’ descent when reciting the Apostles’ Creed.
But the harrowing of hell remains a central tenet of Eastern Orthodox Christians, who place an icon depicting the descent at the front of their churches as Saturday night becomes Easter Sunday. It remains there, venerated and often kissed, for 40 days.

“The icon that represents Easter for us is not the empty cross or tomb,” said Peter Bouteneff, a theology professor at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, N.Y. “It’s Christ’s descent into Hades.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Holy Week, Parish Ministry, Theology

A Prayer for Holy Saturday (II)

O Lord God, who didst send thy only begotten Son to redeem the world by his obedience unto death: Grant, we humbly beseech thee, that the continual remembrance of his bitter cross may teach us to crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts thereof; that in the union and merits of his death and passion we may die with him, and rest with him, and rise again with him, and live with him for ever, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory; world without end.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

The Transition

Holy Saturday is a neglected day in parish life. Few people attend the Services. Popular piety usually reduces Holy Week to one day ”” Holy Friday. This day is quickly replaced by another ”” Easter Sunday. Christ is dead and then suddenly alive. Great sorrow is suddenly replaced by great joy. In such a scheme Holy Saturday is lost.

In the understanding of the Church, sorrow is not replaced by joy; it is transformed into joy. This distinction indicates that it is precisely within death the Christ continues to effect triumph.

”“Alexander Schmemann (1921-1983)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Parish Ministry, Theology

The best way to pray is: Stop

If we really want prayer, we’ll have to give it time. We must slow down to a human tempo and we’ll begin to have time to listen. And as soon as we listen to what’s going on, things will begin to take shape by themselves….The best way to pray is: Stop. Let prayer pray within you, whether you know it or not.

–Thoms Merton (1915–1968)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

In the End A Sort of Quietness

I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been”“if you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you”“you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing was ever going to happen again.

”“C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Poetry & Literature

Jesus Christ was Buried

“By the grace of God” Jesus tasted death “for every one”. In his plan of salvation, God ordained that his Son should not only “die for our sins” but should also “taste death”, experience the condition of death, the separation of his soul from his body, between the time he expired on the cross and the time he was raised from the dead. The state of the dead Christ is the mystery of the tomb and the descent into hell. It is the mystery of Holy Saturday, when Christ, lying in the tomb, reveals God’s great sabbath rest after the fulfillment of man’s salvation, which brings peace to the whole universe.

–The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, para. 624

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology