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The Great Sabbath

April 11, 2020

“And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.” John 19:42

Today is Holy Saturday. For many people, this is usually a day of great busyness. But on this 27th day of being sheltered in place, the pace is slower. Perhaps this is a blessing for us to simply receive.

“And on the seventh day,” you’ll remember, “God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.”

On the seventh day, after creating the heavens and the earth, God rested.

Yesterday, we heard Jesus’ victory cry: It is finished! There, in agony on the tree, the Word that spoke creation into being finished his work. The Word fell silent into death.

On this, the seventh day, our Lord rests in the tomb.

Of course, even the resting of the Lord is filled with purpose. Christ descends into hell to harrow it, to bring salvation to the dead. His saving death is not just for people everywhere, but everywhen.

Still, the earth is stilled. Creation takes a breath, waiting to see what happens.

We know what happens, and tonight we will acclaim, “This is the night!” Our Alleluias will return.

But not quite yet.

In the Eastern Church, the Matins of Great and Holy Saturday includes this ode:

Today Thou dost keep holy the seventh day, Which Thou has blessed of old by resting from Thy works. Thou bringest all things into being and Thou makest all things new, Observing the Sabbath rest, my Saviour, and restoring strength.

Yesterday, the Word was hushed, his work of salvation complete. Tomorrow, the Eighth Day, we celebrate the new creation.

Today, on this Great Sabbath, rest. Rest with the Lord who rested in death to bring us back to life. Rest, and gather your strength, your breath, as we prepare to unleash Alleluias from our homes into the world. This is the night!

Be well, friends. You are loved.

Creator God, we thank you for creating the heavens and the earth. We praise you for redeeming heaven and earth through the death and resurrection of your Son. Give us rest on this day of preparation and joy when Easter comes. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The photograph was taken by me in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 2017.

Resources for celebrating the Easter Vigil at home can be found here.

From → COVID-19, Lent/Easter

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