A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday in Holy Week - Prayer & Reflections

For the season of Lent, my Thursday morning bible study has been focusing on the book, "Christians at the Cross," by New Testament bible scholar, Tom Wright. This week, we looked at Saturday of Holy Week.

The scripture texts for Good Friday are Lamentations 1:1-22 (Jeremiah's laments over the exile of Judah) & John 19:28-42 (Joseph of Arimathea & Nicodemus wrap the body of Jesus and place him in a tomb.)

Here are the highlights of our study on Holy Saturday:
  • Lamentations is what you get when you walk through the streets of your community and allow yourself to be totally open to the pain, sorrow, and needs all around.
  • While it's depressing to read someone's laments, there are two things to keep in mind about how the Book of Lamentations is so important to our faith: 1) Jeremiah insists that God is in the midst of the pain, sorrow, and needs. 2) In the Hebrew language, (and lost through our present day translations,) this book was written as an acrostic as each verse begins with a different letter of the alphabet in the order of the alphabet. Jeremiah does this four times in the first four chapters. The point is that Jeremiah is showing us that even in the midst of chaos, ruin, and deep sorrow, God's order and purposes lie underneath the surface even though we can't see it at the time. This example of the use of an acrostic shows how creatively and subtlely the Bible can speak to us. And it shows why bible studies to help us pick up on these things are so important.

  • The bass part which we have been referring to as the Old Testament and in this case, the passage from Lamentations, reminds us that death is real and final. Therefore, the only way to defeat death is if God will someday make a whole new creation out of the old creation.

  • For Holy Saturday in Holy Week, as Jesus is in the tomb, what we must do is patiently wait, and in the midst of our grief and mourning, know that God's purposes and order are lurking in the background. We cling to the hope that God will somehow bring about new creation. What that will look like, we do not know. What we're called to do is to be silent for these brief hours on the Sabbath, wait, and listen carefully.

  • Each year, on Holy Saturday, I meet with our confirmands who will be joining at our Easter Vigil service. At this morning rehearsal, I always remind them of the meaning of Holy Saturday and we pray the prayer you see below.

  • Next week, I'll post the highlights of our study of Easter Sunday from Tom Wright's book, "Christians at the Cross."
Collect of the Day: Holy Saturday

"O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so may we await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

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