Prayer and Reflections for Holy Saturday

holy saturday 2

Hymn text from the Holy Saturday Divine Office

Selection from Holy Week Message by Bishop Sue Harper Johnson, North Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (3/28/2018)
I have found that each year I tend to focus on one aspect of Holy Week, usually one reflecting the current circumstances in my life. This year I have been fixated on Holy Saturday. Let’s face it, Holy Saturday doesn’t get much airtime in the Protestant church. No Easter vigils, baptisms, bonfires, etc. We tend to move quickly from the drama of Good Friday to the joy of Easter morning, and often use Saturday for Easter Egg hunts and children’s events.

I don’t think we are giving Holy Saturday its due. It is a day of silence and waiting, a day when the disciples must have contemplated the horror of the crucifixion, agonized over their fear and betrayal, and succumbed to the depths of despair. All must have seemed lost.

But while the disciples wandered around in a fog of despair, God was doing God’s finest work. Within the dark and silence of the tomb, God’s resurrection power was bringing life out of death. The tomb became a womb of new life and possibility. And Jesus, firstborn from the dead, laid aside his grave clothes and neatly folded up the cloth from his head. He then headed to hell to proclaim that death had been conquered. And that’s that. The mystery of the ages, the miracle of all miracles, completed in a Saturday.

Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience,
for to wait is often harder than to work. – Peter Marshall

Selection from Worship in the Light of the Cross by John Indermar
Holy Saturday awkwardly interrupts the church’s calendar. We read in Luke of the women who rest on this day in sabbath observance. But we find it hard to replicate their rest in our day.

The prior week’s preparations for palm processions, Passion Week cantatas, and/or seven last word recollections leave little time for decorating sanctuaries and making ready for Easter breakfasts and final practices of brass quartets for Sunday’s allelulias – not to mention eggs to dye and family banquets to prepare. So much to do on Saturday and so little time.

But Holy Saturday offers this advice to activist-bent individuals and congregations and denominations like my own: Don’t just do something, stand there. Sometimes, our busyness cocoons and insulates us from deep consideration of why we think our lives require constant motion. Busyness has often been a prescription for overcoming grief. Do this, do that, work your way out of it. But once the activity dies down, when exhaustion inevitably sets in, the questions and the pain remain, perhaps aggravated by delay in their contemplation.

The women in Luke [23:55-56] actively engage in the immediate aftermath of crucifixion. They follow to see where the body has been taken. They prepare spices and ointments for anointing the corpse. But instead of pressing ahead in a rush to get things done ASAP, they stop. They keep sabbath. In Luke’s terms, they rest. Luke’s word Heschazo carries dual meanings of “to keep quiet” and “to cease from labor.” The women keep Saturday’s vigil in stillness and quietness.

Reflection on Waiting by Henri J. M. Nouwen
To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.

Prayer for Holy Saturday by Lisa Degrenia
Lord of the Sabbath, Lord of Hosts,
There are so many things we do not understand

Help us to trust you
even when the situation is desperate and out of control

Help us to follow you
even when the way unclear

Help us to wait and rest
even when every bit of us screams to act

Build in us a faith that perseveres
Even when we can’t see you
Or feel you near
Or understand

Your power and goodness are never diminished
Morning is coming

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Click Here for a video of an ancient homily for Holy Saturday, author unknown

Prayer for Holy Saturday © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
(by Lisa Degrenia, revlisad.com) Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Two Reflections on Jesus Praying in Gethsemane

christ-in-gethsemane-pExtended quote from Max Lucado, The Upper Room Disciplines 2010
It is a stark scene. Jesus praying in Gethsemane, saying, “My heart is ready to break with grief. …” Does this look like the picture of a saintly Jesus resting in the palm of God? Hardly. We see an agonizing, straining, and struggling Jesus. We see a “man of sorrows.” We see a man struggling with fear, wrestling with commitments, and yearning for relief.

We see Jesus in the fog of a broken heart.

My, what a portrait! Jesus is in pain. Jesus is on the stage of fear. Jesus is cloaked, not in sainthood, but in humanity.

The next time the fog finds you, remember Jesus in the garden. The next time you think no one understands, reread the fourteenth chapter of Mark. The next time your self-pity convinces you that no one cares, pay a visit to Gethsemane. And the next time you wonder if God really perceives the pain that prevails on this dusty planet, listen to the pleading among the twisted trees.

Seeing God like this does wonders for our own suffering. God was never more human than at this hour. God was never nearer to us than when God hurt. The Incarnation was never so fulfilled as in the garden.

Jesus, may I watch with you in your pain and so come to understand that you watch me in mine. Amen.

Matthew 26:40-41
Could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

We must have faith during the period of our grief. We think that our afflictions will be greater than we can bear, but we do not know the strength of our own hearts, nor the power of God. – François Fenelon

Stay Awake by Steve Garnaas Holmes
I slip into sleep,
a deadness I seek,
a trance of avoidance,
distraction’s pleasant coma.
I am numb to your world, O Christ,
to your suffering, your love,
unconscious of you here.

Awaken me.
Breathe yourself into me
and rouse me
from my fearful distance.

Let even pain keep me awake,
attentive to your pain
in all who hurt,
your love keep me alert
to love in all your forms.

Grant me this simple gift,
all you ask:
that I may stay awake,
trusting I am not orphaned,
and pray with you,
so earnestly praying for me
and all the world.
just stay awake my little time
and pray with you.

Let all my waking hours
be wakeful hours.

Prayer: Reworking the Fragments

knitting afghan
Healthy religion, as the very word re-ligio (“rebinding”) indicates, is the task of putting our divided realities back together again: human and divine, male and female, heaven and earth, sin and salvation, mistake and glory. – Richard Rohr

Holy One
You knit us together
And breathe us into being

When our lives remind us of our frailty
When they unravel
and rend
and fray
You gather us in again
Reworking the fragments
With grace upon grace
Until the beautiful new is born

Help us cling to this promise
This hope
Especially in the between time
Trusting the new is coming
Trusting You

Glory to you, our great Love.
Glory to you, our Resurrection.
Glory to you.

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Reworking the Fragments © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Photo Credit: Scrappy Knitting, Completely Couchy Blog

Quotes: When God Delays

Light and Darkness by Alshain

Never think that God’s delays are God’s denials. Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius. – George-Louis Leclerc de Buffon

Delays are not refusals; many a prayer is registered, and underneath it the words: “My time is not yet come.” – Anonymous

Promises, though they be for a time seemingly delayed, cannot be finally frustrated…. the heart of God is not turned though His face be hid; and prayers are not flung back, though they be not instantly answered. – Timothy Cruso

Patience allows the divine will and purpose to unfold. When we are prone to premature closure, patience sees the possibility of a new creation. (2 Cor. 5:17)
– Kenneth H. Carter Jr., Pray for Me

Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be. – John Ortberg

Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We would like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability — and that it may take a very long time. Above all, trust in the slow work of God, our loving vine-dresser. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Good Friday Prayers from The Awkward Season- Prayers for Lent by Pamela C Hawkins

Good Friday Prayers from The Awkward Season- Prayers for Lent by Pamela C Hawkins

Patience with others is Love.
Patience with self is Hope.
Patience with God is Faith.
Adel Bestavros

He may delay because it would not be safe to give us at once what we ask: we are not ready for it. To give before we could truly receive, would be to destroy the very heart and hope of prayer, to cease to be our Father. The delay itself may work to bring us nearer to our help, to increase the desire, perfect the prayer, and ripen the receptive condition. – George Macdonald

Psalm 5:3 (NIV)
In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV)
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Beloved, whatever you are waiting for or believing for, God will not be late. The Lord is the Healer. He is just. He is the dreamer of dreams and He answers prayers…. Don’t give up hope and one day you will see the resurrection you have been waiting for come your way! – Cindy Jacobs

For a devotion based on the theme When God Delays, click here

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