The collect and readings for Holy Saturday may be found here. The following sermon is based on Matthew 27:57-66.
Jesus is dead. His body is in the tomb.
We weren’t there that day, but we know what it is like when life takes us to the edge. It is a border where you know you cannot go back to the way things were. Life has changed. A loved one has died. A relationship has ended. A dream has forever been shattered. The life we so carefully planned has fallen apart. The walls of our security have been breached. What used to be is no longer. There’s nothing to go back to. This is life on the edge. The disciples knew that edge. So do we.
The Church calls life on the edge Holy Saturday. On one side it is bordered by Good Friday; on the other by the hope of Easter life and resurrection. But it’s not yet Easter and in the midst of profound loss and grief Easter can seem a long way off.
Holy Saturday is a time of waiting for the third day. It is a time of not knowing. It is a time of silence. The women in today’s gospel say nothing. They do nothing. They just sit. Joseph of Arimathea asks, for the body, cares for it, and then leaves. There’s not much else to do or that can be done.
We know we have to move on. But how? The way forward is not clear. There’s no where to go. Our entire world, it seems, has become a tomb and the tombs of our lives always look so secure.
They are secured not so much by sealing the stone and posting guards but by our own overwhelming sorrow, pain, and despair. Those things tell us nothing is getting out of the tomb. The silence of Holy Saturday says there are no good words to be spoken. The waiting of Holy Saturday says nothing is happening. The unknown of Holy Saturday says there is no future. Those are, however, illusions. Beneath the silence and stillness of Holy Saturday death trembles and hell cries out in fear.
No matter how secure we have made our tombs, they can never be secured from the love of God. The depth of God’s love is every bit as deep as our tombs. In the Holy Saturday of life Christ descends into the depths of our tombs, into the hell of our lives, breaking the bonds of death, and setting the captives free. His love fills the tomb, permeates its walls, and transforms it into a womb of new birth and life.
Christ’s triumph is not apart from death, but within death. On Holy Saturday Christ is trampling down death by death and giving life to those in the tombs. All and only for love’s sake.