holy saturday.

On January 1, I announced a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey.

Holy Saturday

What’s this holy day all about?
Holy Saturday marks the day when Jesus’ body lay in the tomb. Fearful that the disciples would steal Jesus’ body and claim that He had been resurrected, the chief priests and Pharisees petitioned Pilate to send a guard to the tomb. This is recorded in Matthew 27:57-45; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:44-56 and John 19:38-42. Christians believe that Jesus descended into Hell as His body lay in the tomb, as recorded in 1 Peter 3 and the Apostles’ Creed.

What’s the history of this observance?
“Holy Saturday was also known as Great or Grand Saturday, as well as the Angelic Night. It was the only Saturday on which fasting was permitted in the early days of the Christian church. According to some sources, fasting occurred during the entire day or lasted for 40 hours before the Easter Sunday sunrise during the first century CE. This day was a major day for baptisms in the early church. Many churches still hold large services for baptisms on Holy Saturday.” (citation)

What’s it to me?
Holy Saturday beckons us to wait, to hold vigil for our Savior’s return. This day has innumerable parallels to the age we find ourselves living in now – an age filled with pain and longing. While we know that Jesus will return to us again, we so often experience the disorientation, confusion, anger, loneliness and fear of the disciples. “Where has He gone?,” we wonder. “Does He see our pain? Does He hold any power over it?” And we beg for the faith to believe. We grieve that He is not with us, yet we rejoice in the knowledge that He will return. I’m thinking today on how much I long for Him to burst through the temporal barriers that separate us. I want to learn how to live in this in between space, a space painful and hopeful at once.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
Holy Saturday commemorates the day when Jesus’ body lay in the tomb, which was guarded for fear that His body would be stolen. This is also when we believe Jesus descended into Hell. In a word, this is a day of waiting.

So, how could we observe it?

Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.

Read the Lectionary texts and pray the Collect for Holy Saturday.

It’s not too late to join us for an the remainder of our Holy Week journey through a simple devotional. Click to have Deep & Lowly: taking refuge in the Suffering Servant emailed to you.

Read Jerusalem Greer’s Holy Week ideas from last year (family friendly).

Wait on Him. Light a candle in a dark room, sit and pray, just be quiet and seek Him for a few minutes. Ask yourself what it would have been like to know He was laying in a tomb, experience the flood of emotions. Store up the depth of it all, with the knowledge that Sunday is coming.

Download the Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook and grow in your understanding of Lent + Holy Week through the one page summary. Then use the workbook pages to reflect on the past season and reset for the remainder of the season of Lent.

Add touches of purple (reminds us of Christ’s painful death and His royalty) and red (reminds us of Jesus’ shedding of blood) to your home through decor, flowers or candles.

For kids: Talk about what waiting feels like, why it is hard and how we can feel both sad and hopeful at the same time. Dye Easter eggs in preparation for tomorrow.

Create a playlist from songs we’ve been gathering on the Facebook page, where we asked what people were they have been listening to in order to orient their hearts during Holy Week.

Death Was Arrested by Gwinnett Worship
Oh the Blood by Kari Jobe
Power of the Cross by Natalie Grant
High Noon by Andrew Peterson
Christ is Risen by Matt Maher
This I Believe, Our Father & Calvary by Hillsong Worship
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
There is a Fountain Filled with Blood
Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
Hallelujah! What a Savior

I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on the Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?

What are your ideas for observing Holy Week + Holy Saturday?

Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar are you thinking about this week?

Is this series serving you well? What are you enjoying? How could it improve?

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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Author: Abby Perry

Abby has written for The Gospel Coalition, Christ and Pop Culture, Upwrite Magazine, and The Influence Network. She is the communications coordinator for a nonprofit organization and co-facilitates two community efforts—one promoting bridge-building racial reconciliation conversations and one supporting area foster and adoptive families. Abby graduated from Texas A&M University and currently attends Dallas Theological Seminary. She and her family live in College Station, Texas.