Hell Yeah! – A Holy Saturday Sermon on Matthew 27:57-66 and Job 14:1-14

Job 14:1-14
Matthew 27:57-66

Death, Harrowing of Hell, Descent into Hell, Holy Saturday, Matthew 27:57-66, Job 14:1-14, Sermon, Resurrection

Harrowing of Hell, 14th century, Chora Church, Istanbul (By Gunnar Bach Pedersen – Self-photographed, Public Domain)

“If mortals die, will they live again?” (Job 14:14)

That’s Job’s question. It’s a Holy Saturday kind of question. It’s a question all of us ask on the Holy Saturdays of our lives.

Jesus was crucified, killed, yesterday. His body was placed in a tomb. A great stone was placed over the entrance. The woman sit opposite the tomb. They do nothing. They say nothing. They just sit. Then comes the next day, Holy Saturday, and the tomb is sealed, guarded, and made secure. (Matthew 27:57-66)

Holy Saturday, however, is not only a day on the liturgical calendar, it is also a reality experienced in each of our lives. That’s how liturgy works. It reflects and images back to us the reality of our lives. On the calendar Holy Saturday is the next day, the day after Good Friday. In life Holy Saturday is also the next day, the day after.

It is the day after the funeral.
It is the day after the body has been buried.
It is the day after the relationship ended.
It is the day after the dream was shattered.
It is the day after we tried and failed.
It is the day after the diagnosis.
It is the day after the tragedy.
It’s the day after we admitted our life was a mess.
It is the day after we realized life is not going the way we planned or intended.
It is the day after we made the wrong decision.
It is the day after our life was forever changed in ways we neither asked for or nor wanted.

Holy Saturday is the day after. It’s a day of silence, stillness, and waiting. There’s not much to say or do on Holy Saturday. The tomb has been made secure and the only thing certain is that things have changed and something has been lost. Holy Saturday is a day of not knowing. There are no answers; only a question, Job’s question. “If mortals die, will they live again?”

On Holy Saturday we want to know what’s next or if there will even be a next. Is the tomb the end? We want to know if there is life after this loss. Is there life after Holy Saturday? Holy Saturday is a day of tears and prayers. Where is God? Where is Jesus on Holy Saturday? “If mortals die, will they live again?”

So where is he today? Where is Jesus on the Holy Saturday of your life? The Church has something to say about this. Look on page 96 of the Book of Common Prayer. What does the Apostles’ Creed tell us?

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.

Look on page 53 of the Book of Common Prayer, a different translation of the Apostles’ Creed. Where does it say Jesus is?

[He] suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried.
He descended into hell.

We are never abandoned on the Holy Saturday of life. Jesus has descended to the dead parts of our life. He has entered into the hell of our lives. That’s where he is on this day. And if it feels like your life has been shaken to the core on Holy Saturday know this; it’s not your life being shaken, but the gates of hell being torn down. It is hell itself shaking with fear at the presence of Christ, trembling and regretting that it ever presumed to take captive the Author of Life or one of his children. This is Christ’s harrowing of hell.

On Holy Saturday Christ reaches into the abyss of death and pulls Adam and Eve from the grasp of death. Adam and Eve represent every man and every woman. They are you and they are me.

“If mortals die, will they live again?” Hell yeah!

10 thoughts on “Hell Yeah! – A Holy Saturday Sermon on Matthew 27:57-66 and Job 14:1-14

  1. Reblogged this on Solid gold creativity and commented:
    Each year I look forward to reading Father Mike in Texas on Easter. He has special insight into the meaning and implications of the story, deepened through the death of his own beloved son. This year I particularly enjoyed his post on Easter Saturday, “the day after” he calls it, the day after the death, the diagnosis, the ending of the relationship, and so on. I hope it gives you something too …

    Like

  2. Your insights very helpful…I am in that liminal space between loss and hope…first Easter in 50 years that I did not journey the Sacred Tridium with my beloved mother who passed away to the Lord last summer at 92.Holy Saturday was lost on me until this Easter… I sit and wait with the Mary’s…

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    • Carol, I am glad the sermon was helpful. I know it won’t fix anything but maybe it let’s you establish yourself in Holy Saturday and trust the liminality of the day, no matter how long it lasts. I know that even in the uncertainty of that liminal space a promise resides and is being fulfilled. The promise is never to leave us in our tombs. Regardless of how long it may take the promise will be fulfilled. I am so sorry for your loss. I will remember you and your mother in my prayers.

      God’s peace be with you,
      Mike+

      Like

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