Waiting – A Sermon On Matthew 27:57-66

Holy Saturday, Matthew 27:57-66, Death, Holy Week, Sermon

Holy Saturday – Matthew 27:57-66

Holy Saturday, Matthew 27:57-66, Death, Holy Week, Sermon
Photo by Scott Van Daalen on Unsplash

Here’s my question. What are you waiting for? And what is your hope on this day?

The thing that makes Holy Saturday so difficult, that makes this gospel text so unsatisfying, that leaves my sermon lacking is that there is no resolution. There is only waiting. 

You’ve had days like that, so have I. And sometimes it’s not just a single day of waiting. It’s weeks, months, years. Our life has been changed and it’s no longer like it used to be. We wait and wonder what’s next or if there will be a next. We wait and wonder when it will get better or if it will get better. We wait and wonder how we will ever live again or if we will.

I imagine that’s what it was like for Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. They “were there, sitting opposite the tomb.” They don’t do anything and they don’t say anything, but neither are they passive. They wait.

Holy Saturday is all the times in our lives when it feels like the present moment is closing in on us and closing us up. A great stone has been rolled to the door of our future and sealed, guarded by grief, pain, anger, fear, disappointment, regret, confusion, despair. 

Has life only changed, or has it ended? I think that’s what we want to know in the Holy Saturday of our lives. But we don’t know, so we wait. 

The thing that strikes me about today’s gospel is that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary waited but Joseph of Arimathea “went away” after he rolled “a great stone to the door of the tomb.” Do you remember who were the first to see the empty tomb? Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. 

Maybe that’s wishful thinking or fantasy on my part, maybe it’s a promise. I don’t know but it’s all I got. Maybe in the Holy Saturday of life waiting is our hope and prayer. 

Holy Week 2021
+ Palm Sunday: Working Out Our Life
+ Monday in Holy Week: Fragrancing Life
+ Tuesday in Holy Week: What Troubles Your Soul?
+ Wednesday in Holy Week: The Night Of Betrayal
+ Maundy Thursday: Coming Clean About Ourselves
+ Good Friday: A Call For Change


  1. Dear Fr. Michael,
    I have been very impressed with Fr. Michael Fish’s explanation of this Sabbath, of Holy Saturday, as the time the King sleeps. To be in the tomb, to be in the “winter of our discontent” and grief; to lie fallow, to simply be paralyzed by grief, because we are incapable of hope until after the Resurrection. I think the women had a way of being allowed to grieve and share the grief, which was so needed; as so many people died, children and babies and moms in labor, and men broken too soon by hard labor and battles. To be able to go to the gravesite, and weep and wail and bring herbs and flowers, to light candles and pray, is to find a way through the grief to the new altered reality of loss. It is hard for us to stay with this, because we do know that the Resurrection is coming. They did not know or understand that. It stuns them. It overwhelms them. I try to lie fallow, to be willing to just stay with the emptiness, the grief and loss. It is little enough, this one day to try to face the denial of death in our culture, of which Ernst Becker spoke. Thanks for your many great reflections, and may you have a joyful Easter!


  2. This is one of my favorite days of the Easter observance – because it forces me to pause my life and reflect – what life am I living? The life that can’t get past what came before Good Friday or the life that embraces and lives into the unknown freedom of Easter Sunday? Every year I face these questions from a different perspective. As I have more life behind me than I have ahead of me, I have much to ponder. Did Christ die for me? If He did I sure don’t live as if He did.

    Liked by 1 person

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