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Holy Saturday: Death Has Been Swallowed up in Victory

Date: 
April 3, 2021

There is a great silence on the earth today;
a great silence and a stillness as we remember.

We remember the angel’s announcement to the Virgin:
The Word has become flesh.
We remember that silent night in Bethlehem;
when You, who transcends all things,
were laid to rest in a manger;
when You, whose holiness cannot be touched,
were held in the arms of Mary;
when You, whom no one can see and live,
were beheld by shepherds.

We remember how You gave sight to the blind,
how You made the lame walk,
how You raised the dead,
how You healed those who were sick.
We remember how You turned water in wine,
how You fed five thousand with five loaves and two fish,
how You commanded the wind and waves to be still.

We remember the stories You told,
about a farmer and his seeds,
about a father and his sons,
about a vineyard and its workers.

We remember your explanation for these things:
that the reign of God was at hand,
did we perceive it?
that God was returning to Zion,
were we ready?

And God did come,
riding on a donkey, weeping for us.
We cheered,
and You said that if we didn’t, the stones would.

Today, something strange has happened.
The stones have cried out;
the earth has opened;
the sky has closed;
You have died;
You have left us.

You have left us and gone to a place unknown.
You have gone down into the pit,
into the abyss, into the darkness,
into the shadow of death.
You have gone to rescue those who dwell in the shadow of death;
You have gone to find our first parents.

Awake, O Adam! Awake, O Eve!
Into the darkness comes a Great Light!
Captivity is being taken captive!
Death is being swallowed up by Life!

“Behold, O Adam! Behold, O Eve!
See the spittle on my face,
I have restored the life I once breathed into you.
See the bruises on my body,
I have refashioned your fallen nature in my image.
See the marks on my back,
I have removed the burden of sin that weighs upon your back.
See my hands, nailed to a tree,
I have redeemed you who once stretched out your hand to a tree.
The sword that pierced my side,
has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.*

Now come! Let us leave this place!
For the bridal chamber is adorned;
the banquet is ready;
the treasure houses of all good things lie open.
The enemy led you out of Paradise;
I will lead you to the throne room of heaven.”*

*These stanzas are adapted from an early church homily for Holy Saturday.

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