St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Bolivar, Missouri

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Holy Saturday The day it seems that nothing happens.

Holy Saturday
For many Christians Saturday is a sort of meaningless pause between Good Friday and Easter day. But that wasn’t true for the first thousand years of Christian history.
For them the words we say without thinking about them much really mattered: “He descended to the dead.”
If Christ’s victory is really as great as we say it is, then it not only moves forward in history, but also backward. The idea of permanent punishment in a “hell” was not a Jewish one. But the dead either simply were dead – gone – erased, as the Sadducees thought, or they were dead as Lazarus was, awaiting resurrection in some future time, as the Pharisees taught.
Medieval Christians loved the idea of Jesus’ death and resurrection being such a magnificent and final victory over all sin, all death. And so they believed that even while he was in the tomb, before his resurrection, Jesus went to the dead – where he called out every person from Adam and Eve forward into life.
This is an image of Christ pulling a sinner from death’s realm – portrayed on the baptismal font of St Mary Magdalene Church, Eardisley, Herfordshire, England

What the lonely and disheartened disciples saw – or didn’t see, wasn’t all they got! But you can imagine how difficult this day must have been for his friends. We know days like this, too – when it seems as if God has really not only gone silent, but perhaps gone absent as well.
The images of Christ “harrowing” hell, turning it over as a farmer turns the soil every spring, is something that came only in retrospect. At the time, there couldn’t have been any way to interpret what had happened on that long day after their Teacher and Lord had been crucified and buried.



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