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Dismay Uttered, Pain Held, Prayers Offered


3 April 2023
Holy Saturday is a time to give voice to our concerns and laments. 

By Karin Peter 
President of seventy  

Holy Saturday falls between Good Friday of Holy Week and Easter Sunday. In some traditions a Tenebrae service at the close of Good Friday concludes with each light turned off and each candle extinguished, one by one, until the people depart in utter darkness. The church stays dark until Easter morning, when the altar candles are relit. 

Another observance might be a vigil on Holy Saturday, when readings from the Psalms and the Hebrew prophets alternate with prayers of the people. In Community of Christ, you will find Holy Saturday worship resources at HeraldHouse.org to assist your congregation or group in planning in Year A. 

On this day we return to the wilderness of Lent to spend time contemplating, confessing, hoping. In Moments and Day: How Our Holy Celebrations Shape Our Faith (NavPress, 2016, page 152), Michelle Van Loon points out that on Holy Saturday we feel the full effect of what has taken place. We go from the giddy high of the Palm Sunday procession, through the formational experience of Maundy Thursday, to the horror of the Good Friday crucifixion. 

On this day we return to the wilderness of Lent to spend time contemplating, confessing, hoping.

“On Holy Saturday we feel the weight of Holy Week, and we realize…we are not at peace—not without Jesus,” Van Loon writes. 

It is here, in the not-yet of the coming Resurrection, that we make time and space to express the fears and frustrations that hover in the background of our human experience. We acknowledge our vulnerability, our loneliness, our less-than-kind reactions and inactions. 

In Holy Saturday gatherings, dismay is uttered, pain held, and prayers offered as the people wait in a world darkened by injustice, violence, oppression, greed, and unbridled consumption. 

As we wait, we reflect on the persecution Christ suffered. We examine our own lives and recognize that as Christ-followers, we are called to live courageously as a counter to the hatred, consumerism, division, idolatry, and fear of our surrounding cultures. 

This year Holy Saturday falls as we are preparing for World Conference. Our anticipation and joy at being together in sacred community is tempered by the realities of our world. We face the complicated issues of ongoing global health crises, financial uncertainty, global instability, and food insecurity. 

As we wait, we reflect on the persecution Christ suffered. We examine our own lives and recognize that as Christ-followers, we are called to live courageously as a counter to the hatred, consumerism, division, idolatry, and fear of our surrounding cultures. 

We are uncertain about the future of congregational life, dismayed over losing buildings and places we find sacred, and concerned about funding the continued mission of the church. Holy Saturday is a time to voice our concerns and laments. In doing so, we make space for the Spirit to do its work—the work of comfort, companioning, courage. 

This is where we find ourselves as a community of faithful disciples. We are waiting with courage to come together and address difficult questions. Courage to resist cultural temptations that distract us from the quiet summoning of the Spirit. Courage to welcome what we cannot yet see, the dawn of liberating resurrection. 

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