Welcome to Holy Saturday, more appropriately called Black Saturday.

To fully grasp the victory that will come tomorrow, we must sit in the darkness that is today. We must face the reality of death, the pain of death, the darkness of death. We have the luxury of knowing what happens tomorrow. But for this day, let’s place ourselves in the thoughts of Jesus’ disciples, of Mary and Mary Magdalene, of those that had believed that Jesus would be their Messiah.

We sit at the tomb of Jesus. The Messiah that we were expecting to reign and to triumph is laying in a tomb, dead. We thought that Jesus would stroll into town, kick out the Romans, and reign like a king. We thought that he would restore Israel to glory. All our hope was in him and now he is dead. Our Messiah is dead. Our Savior is dead. Our King is dead.

I’d like to share a writing by Walter Wangerin Jr. from Reliving the Passion:

Joseph had unrolled a linen cloth and laid it on the ground. It is close-woven and white. It is longer than the human frame and twice as wide. It is a shroud.

He has leaned a ladder to the back side of the cross.

He has climbed the ladder.

Now he draws ropes around the chest, beneath the shoulders of our Lord and over the beam of wood. He threw the loose ends down to the centurion facing him. With a sudden force—and with anguish that there must be force—he wrenches the spikes from the crossbar. The left one: the body of Jesus swings wide away and hangs from one arm. The right: the body slumps. The ropes go taut. The centurion has one in each hand. Joseph whispers, “Wait,” descends, then stands below the slouching corpse, below the rain of the dead man’s hair. He applies himself to the spike through the heels. The legs drop.

“Now,” he whispers.

With his left arm he is hugging Jesus at the knees.

“Lower him.”

By sad degrees as the Roman pays out rope, the body sinks, shoulders hunched to the ears, Jesus resistless. Joseph receives the torso on his right arm. The head falls back. The mouth opens. The eyes are lidded, blind. The hair rains at Joseph’s elbow. Jesus is gaunt. As light as an empty scrip. The body without the sounding breath is light and so pitifully little. Joseph kneels and lays him on the shroud and begins to wind the linen around him for burial…

The door to the tomb is a hole in stone no higher than a human waist. Joseph enters backward, bent down, bearing the shoulders of Jesus. The centurion, on his knees, keeps the legs from dragging dirt.

“Thank you,” says Joseph. His voice echoes in the hollow rock. “Thank you. This is enough.”

He disposes the body alone, then, and emerges into the darker part of evening. The sun has set. The sky is empty. The air is absolutely still.

There is a descending groove in the stone ledge below the sepulcher’s door. Joseph rolls a flat stone down this groove. A single, slow revolution will bring it flush to the hole. No animals will desecrate this body…

Then the door is closed. The deed is done. It is finished.

Prayer of Response

Light has passed, darkness has fallen.

The light of the world was placed in a tomb.

We look for light but we cannot see.

Light has passed, darkness has fallen.

The hope of all creation was betrayed.

We look for hope but we cannot see.

Light has passed, darkness has fallen.

The Savior of the world was killed.

We look for a Savior but we cannot see.

Light has passed, darkness has fallen.

The Messiah of all was crucified.

We look for a Messiah but we cannot see.

Light has passed, darkness has fallen.

The Son of God is dead.

We sit at the tomb because we have nowhere to go.

We sit in the darkness because we have extinguished the light.

Light has passed, darkness has fallen.

Amen.

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