Sitting In Opposition – A Sermon On Matthew 27:57-66 For Holy Saturday

Sermon, Holy Saturday, Matthew 27:57-66, Death, Future, Impossible
Bokeh Tomb Stone by Markus Kniebes, Flickr, Public Domain

Holy Saturday – Matthew 27:57-66

I am always struck by the contrast between this day, Holy Saturday, and the rest of Holy Week. The crowds, shouting, and turmoil of Good Friday have given way to silence and stillness. There is no meal or intimacy like on Maundy Thursday. The excitement and hope of Palm Sunday’s triumphal entry have ended with two women and a sealed tomb. 

Look around. The chapel is bare and sparse. No candles, no decorations, no color. It’s stripped and barren. Lifeless.

The liturgy today is short. The readings are short. There is no Eucharist, no singing. Nothing special happens. We say a couple of prayers, hear how Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb, and with Job ask, “If mortals die, will they live again?” The entire liturgy of Holy Saturday will last about fifteen minutes. There is not much to say or do on Holy Saturday. 

It leaves me wondering if it’s even worth the effort to get out of bed, get dressed, and show up. And maybe that’s the point of today’s liturgy. You see, everything I just described is what Holy Saturday in life feels like. 

Holy Saturday is the morning after: the morning after the funeral, the morning after he or she said, “It’s over,” and walked out, the morning after the diagnosis, the morning after your plans failed, the morning after your dreams were shattered, the morning after your life fell apart. 

Sermon, Holy Saturday, Matthew 27:57-66, Death, Future, Impossible
Bokeh Tomb Stone by Markus Kniebes, Flickr, Public Domain

Every one of us has a morning after story. For some of you, today is Holy Saturday not just on the church calendar but in your life. You are living the morning after. And we all know that the morning after is not a single day. Sometimes the morning after lasts months or years leaving us to wonder if it’s worth the effort.

In whatever direction we look on the morning after there is a large stone blocking our way. Our future seems sealed and well guarded. It’s difficult, impossible, to see beyond the morning after. 

On the morning after we do not want the possibilities that are before us. We want the impossible. We want life, more life, a new life. And on Holy Saturday that looks impossible.

“If mortals die, will they live again?” Will we live again? Isn’t that really our question on Holy Saturday? We want the possibility of the impossible. We want a future. 

And that future, the possibility of the impossible, comes to us in the Holy Saturday of our life. That’s why we make the effort to show up the morning after, and the one after that, and the one after that. We don’t know when or how the impossible will come to us, but let’s not miss it when it does.

On Holy Saturday we come to sit not just opposite the tomb but in opposition to the tomb. Holy Saturday is a sit in. We show up again and again with faith and hope to protest. Holy Saturday is our call to protest the large stone of death, trusting that someday, somehow, somewhere, “we shall overcome.”

We shall overcome.


  1. When I read a sermon like this, I feel connected to the speaker in ways that heal more deeply than many Easter sermons I’ve heard. Taking the time to be real and personal, to say what it feels like, day by day, to be a struggling human being is a gift of love for me.
    I believe it’s what Jesus meant when he says, “I will not leave you comfortless.”

    Liked by 1 person

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