The Collects and Readings for Holy Saturday direct us towards themes of rest—of Sabbath preparation. Jesus’ dead body is laid to rest in the tomb, and the authorities have a stone rolled over the opening of the tomb to prevent the body from being taken away, lest Jesus’ foretelling that he would rise on the third day appear to be true.
While we contemplate Sabbath rest, and preparation for the great feast which is just hours away, it is worth remembering that Christian Tradition talks about Christ’s descent to the dead, otherwise known as the “Harrowing of Hell.” In his descent to the dead, he breaks open the gates of hell, and opens heaven’s gates to all the righteous and just who had gone before him. The classic Orthodox icon of the same name shows Christ leading Adam and Eve by their wrists out of Hades, with the righteous patriarchs and prophets behind them.
I think it is worth remembering that the effects of resurrection take place quietly sometimes, even while things appear dead. Like the first sprouts of green that shoot through the earth in this spring time, the seeds that lay dormant in the wintry earth began their work before our eyes could see it. So let us rest on this day. Let us prepare ourselves to celebrate the great feast that is only hours away. Let us discover anew with Mary the empty tomb on Sunday morning. Let us be ready to discover what things, which have appeared to lay dead or dormant, are waiting to spring to life. Maybe it is something within you.
Christ stands ready, hands outstretched, waiting to take us there.
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