Holy Saturday (Year A)

See Holy Week - a Singing the Faith introduction

A new commandment I give unto you:
that you love one another as I have loved you,
that you love one another as I have loved you.
By this the world shall know that you are my disciples,
if you have love one for another.
By this the world shall know that you are my disciples,
if you have love one for another.

(StF 242)

It is worth making the effort (and it is an effort; one we often skip over) to feel the space of Holy Saturday, the pause between Christ’s death and resurrection. The time of questioning and uncertainty. It is easy to imagine the disciples repeating to themselves the words from the book of Job, with its knowledge that pruned trees can bud again but that “mortals die, and are laid low; humans expire, and where are they?” (See Avoiding Holy Saturday)

Of course, it is hard not, as hymn writer Brian Wren puts it, to sing our song backwards – viewing the Holy Week story through the lens of resurrection. (See our suggestion below for Low in the grave he lay, StF 305.) Psalm 31 certainly expresses our deep conviction in God as rock and fortress, as does William Fullerton’s I cannot tell (StF 350), which fluctuates between incomprehension and profound confidence.

At the same time, the paranoid actions of Pilate and the Jewish leaders – aware of what Jesus had prophesied about himself – are a reminder that God, today as throughout Holy Week, is working in ways that make little sense in human terms. Expectations are about to be turned upside down and our lives will now be lived differently as a result (1 Peter).

Job 14: 1-14
Psalm 31: 1-4, 15-16
1 Peter 4: 1-8
Matthew 27: 57-66

Suggested hymns

After darkness, light (StF 292) omit v.4
A safe stronghold our God is still (StF 623)
Deep in the darkness a starlight is gleaming (StF 625)
God, hold us, enfold us, through desolate loss (StF 733)
God of my faith, I offer you my doubt (StF 629)
I cannot tell why he, whom angels worship (StF 350)
I know that my Redeemer lives, and ever prays for me (StF 502)
I’ve had questions without answers (StF 632)
Low in the grave he lay (StF 305) consider singing without the refrain – feel the absence of the words of rejoicing on this day between death and resurrection
Now the green blade rises (StF 306)
Ubi caritas et amor (783)
We pray until the hour (StF 741)
We trust the mighty love of God (StF 742)