Night Prayer for Holy Week
May the Lord grant you a quiet night and a perfect end.
Each evening during Holy Week
At 9:30 0pm
Join us for a short recitation of
Night Prayer of the Church
“Jesus descended into death. He made all that darkness his own. Death captured Jesus as he entered it fully..”
BUILT WITH BOLDGRID
- Vigil readings
Almighty, ever-living God,whose Only-Begotten Son descended to the realm of the dead,and rose from there to glory,grant that your faithful people,who were buried with him in baptism,may, by his resurrection, obtain eternal life.Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,(one) God, for ever and ever.Amen.
Jesus stayed Dead
Holy Saturday is a day of patient waiting when we, as Church, prayerfully reflect on the
passion and death of Christ and await his resurrection. It is a day of fast as we ready ourselves
for the feast of Easter.
Considering the first disciples’ experience of Holy Saturday gives us a meaning for the day that cuts across theological divides. First, they waited. Saturday was a Sabbath. They could not finish tending Jesus’s body for entombment (Luke 23:54–56). They felt an incompleteness.
Surely they experienced on Saturday feelings similar to those described on Sunday before the truth of Jesus’s resurrection fully dawned on them. They went over and over events, trying to make sense of the shock (Luke 24:15). Their dejected faces expressed their hearts (Luke 24:17). Jesus was dead. Could this really be the end of him? Yes, he had predicted that he would rise on the third day. But the disciples in their grief either forgot that promise or no longer believed it (or perhaps had never really understood it). The revolting sounds of Good Friday kept spilling into the eerie quiet of his absence. They waited, but with little, if any, hope. On this barren seventh day, those who loved Jesus hid behind locked doors in fear and despair (John 20:19).
We have similar feelings when we face death. No matter how strong our faith, we each experience the pang of love’s untimely sundering. This is just not how it’s supposed to be! We have been interrupted. We find ourselves waiting for the loved one’s return even though we know it cannot be. We feel the loneliness of this absence, and we may worry that our dead one is also lonely, cut off from knowing our love. We endure the waiting for reunion, haunted in the midnight by the question “Is there really anything more than this void?”
Holy Saturday tells us that Jesus entered death and stayed dead. The gap was long enough that he truly tasted death (Hebrews 2:9) and experienced the pangs of being in death’s grip (Acts 2:24). He fully entered the land from which no one returns. He undertook the great loneliness of death as part of his redeeming us. And his disciples experienced his death as if it were permanent. Stunningly, this is good news for us.
Because of the interval that is Holy Saturday, the hope of Psalm 139 is now grounded in Jesus’s own experience: “If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” (Psalm 139:8). Jesus descended into death. He made all that darkness his own. Death captured Jesus as he entered it fully. But then, in the great reversal, Jesus captured death. In his rising, Christ filled that darkness with the light of his presence. He dispelled that gloom forever for those who trust him. So when we consider the crossing into of death, we can now hold fast to the truth, “Even darkness is not dark to you” (Psalm 139:12). Just as Jesus took our sins, so he has taken all our lonely dying as his own.