Today a grave holds Him…

April 4, 2015

sealedtomb

Today a grave holds him
who holds creation in the palm of his hand.
A stone covers him
who covers with glory the heavens.
Life is asleep and hell trembles,
and Adam is freed from his chains.
Glory to your saving work,
by which you have done all things!
You have given us eternal rest,
Your holy resurrection from the dead.

— a matins hymn for Holy Saturday, from Orthodox Lent, Holy Week and Easter

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Also, in searching for an image for this post, I came across the full homely divinity site’s page on Holy Saturday, including an ancient 8th c. Holy Saturday hymn by Saint John of Damascus:

Into the dim earth’s lowest parts descending,
And bursting by Thy might the infernal chain
That bound the prisoners, Thou, at three days’ ending,
As Jonah from the whale, hast risen again.

Thou brakest not the seal, Thy surety’s token,
Arising from the tomb Who left’st in birth
The portals of virginity unbroken,
Opening the gates of Heaven to sons of earth.

Thou, Sacrifice ineffable and living,
Didst to the Father by Thyself atone
As God eternal: resurrection giving
To Adam, general parent, by Thine own.

– John of Damascus, 8th Century, translated from Greek by John M. Neale in Hymns of the Eastern Church

art credit


“We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death” – St. Ephrem of Edessa

April 4, 2015

originally posted by Fr. Al Kimel at Pontifications in April 2005

“We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death” – St. Ephrem of Edessa

*

Death trampled our Lord underfoot, but He in His turn treated death as a highroad for His own feet. He submitted to it, enduring it willingly, because by this means He would be able to destroy death in spite of itself. Death had its own way when our Lord went out from Jerusalem carrying His cross; but when by a loud cry from that cross He summoned the dead from the underworld, death was powerless to prevent it.

Death slew Him by means of the body which He had assumed, but that same body proved to be the weapon with which He conquered death. Concealed beneath the cloak of His manhood, His godhead engaged death in combat; but in slaying our Lord, death itself was slain. It was able to kill natural human life, but was itself killed by the life that is above the nature of man.

Death could not devour our Lord unless He possessed a body, neither could hell swallow Him up unless He bore our flesh; and so He came in search of a chariot in which to ride to the underworld. This chariot was the body which He received from the Virgin; in it He invaded death’s fortress, broke open its strong-room and scattered all its treasure.

At length He came upon Eve, the mother of all the living. She was that vineyard whose enclosure her own hands had enabled death to violate, so that she could taste its fruit; thus the mother of all the living became the source of death for every living creature. But in her stead Mary grew up, a new vine in place of the old. Christ, the new life, dwelt within her. When death, with its customary impudence, came foraging for her mortal fruit, it encountered its own destruction in the hidden life that fruit contained. All unsuspecting, it swallowed Him up, and in so doing released life itself and set free a multitude of men.

He who was also the carpenter’s glorious son set up His cross above death’s all-consuming jaws, and led the human race into the dwelling place of life. Since a tree had brought about the downfall of mankind, it was upon a tree that mankind crossed over to the realm of life. Bitter was the branch that had once been grafted upon that ancient tree, but sweet the young shoot that has now been grafted in, the shoot in which we are meant to recognise the Lord whom no creature can resist.

We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. We give glory to You who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed Your living body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead.

Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all-embracing sacrifice of our love, pouring out our treasury of hymns and prayers before Him who offered His cross in sacrifice to God for the enrichment of us all.

St Ephrem of Edessa


Holy Saturday around the Blogosphere 2015

April 4, 2015

These links are in fairly random order…, but represent some of the good resources that are being posted today for Holy Saturday.

Lent & Beyond Holy Saturday entries  (several new entries posted already… more to come later)

Ohio Anglican:  Collect and Scripture readings for Holy Saturday

Biola Lent Project:  Devotional for Holy Saturday

Kendall Harmon:  A Prayer for Holy Saturday (I)

Kendall Harmon: The Sound of Perfect Silence

Anglican Mainstream: Meditation for Holy Saturday

Archbishop Cramner blog: Easter Eve: dead, buried, bereft

Trinity School for Ministry:  Holy Saturday Devotional

Godspace:  Even Resurrection Pauses For Sabbath Rest

Desiring God: He Descended into Hell? Holy Saturday

Prydain:  For Easter Eve: a reading from Augustine of Hippo

Give Us This Day (Fr. Charles Erlandson) – Easter Even – John 19:38-42

Emily Polis Gibson – Upon our Saviour’s Tomb, wherein never man was laid

Malcolm Guite – Check out his 14 Sonnets for the Stations of the Cross (especially sonnets 13 & 14)

Scotty Smith: A Prayer for Saturday of Holy Week

Patrick Comerford: Through Lent with Vaughan Williams (46): ‘Dona nobis pacem’ 6 ‘Dona nobis pacem’

Dean of Durham: Harrowing Hell: the significance of Easter Eve

Transfigurations:  Holy Saturday (Psalm 88)

Vicar’s Versicles: Holy Saturday – Meditate in Silence

A new poem from Teresa Roberts Johnson: To His Mother on Holy Saturday

Music for Holy Saturday:  I Called to God (Jonah 2:2-9) Patrick Schlabs

CT Magazine:  Sitting, Waiting, and Hoping in the Tomb of Jesus

Emily Polis Gibson:  Waiting in Hope, Brought to Our Senses

John Ortberg:  In between despair and joy

Cardiphonia:  The Canticle of Jonah for Holy Saturday.  (Also at Cardiphonia, check out several older entries including: Bruce Benedict’s original Holy Saturday hymn / poem:  “Death Tasted Hope in Christ’s last Breath,” and their compilation of Songs & Hyms for Holy Saturday)

Wow… I can’t ever remember seeing so many excellent and meaty reflections for Holy Saturday before…!  It’s been a blessing to have some time to read, reflect, and collate these devotionals and resources!

 


Henri Nouwen on Holy Saturday “The Day of God’s Solitude”

April 4, 2015

The following comes for a series of devotional reflections on the Stations of the Cross by Henri Nouwen.  This is excerpted from the meditation for Station 14:  Jesus is laid in the Grave – from Walk With Jesus

A young Salvadoran woman stands in front of the casket that holds the body of her cruelly executed husband.  She stands alone near the grave into which the casket will be lowered.  Her eyes are closed, her arms folded across her body.  She stands there barefoot, poor, empty. . . but very still.  A deep quiet surrounds her.  No shouts of grief, no cries of protest, no angry voices.  It seems as if this young widow is enveloped in a cloud of peace.  All is over, all is quiet, all is well.  Everything has been taken away from her, but the powers of greed and violence that robbed her of her lover can’t reach that deep solitude of her heart.  In the background stand her friends and neighbors.  They form a protective circle around her.  They honor and respect her solitude.  Some are silent; some whisper words of consolation; some try to explain to each other what happened; some embrace and cry.  But the woman stands there alone.  She understands something that the powers of death cannot understand.  There are a trust and confidence in her that are vastly more powerful than the weapons that killed her husband.  The solitude of the living and the solitude of the dead greet each other.

Joseph of Arimathea placed the body of Jesus “in a tomb which was hewn in stone and which had never held a body. . . .  Meanwhile, the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus were following behind.  They took note of the tomb and how the body had been laid.  Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.  And on the Sabbath day they rested. . . .” (Luke 23:53-56)

There was deep rest around the grave of Jesus.  On the seventh day, when the work of creation was completed, God rested.  “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day he rested after all his work of creating,” (Genesis 2:3).  On the seventh day of the week of our redemption, when Jesus had fulfilled all he was sent by his Father to do, he rested in the tomb, and the women whose hearts were broken with grief rested with him.  Of all the days in history, Holy Saturday – the Saturday during which the body of Jesus lay in the tomb in silence and darkness behind the large stone that was rolled against its entrance, (Mark 15:46) – is the day of God’s solitude.  It is the day on which the whole creation waits in deep inner rest.

Read the whole entry here

 


“Life lock’d in death, heav’n in a shell!” – Henry Vaughan

April 4, 2015

This is a copy of a devotional originally posted by Fr. Al Kimel at Pontifications in 2005

*

LORD, when Thou didst Thyself undress,
Laying by Thy robes of glory,
To make us more, Thou wouldst be less,
And becam’st a woful story.

To put on clouds instead of light,
And clothe the morning-star with dust,
Was a translation of such height
As, but in Thee, was ne’er express’d.

Brave worms and earth! that thus could have
A God enclos’d within your cell,
Your Maker pent up in a grave,
Life lock’d in death, heav’n in a shell!

Ah, my dear Lord! what couldst thou spy
In this impure, rebellious clay,
That made Thee thus resolve to die
For those that kill Thee every day?

O what strange wonders could Thee move
To slight Thy precious blood, and breath?
Sure it was love, my Lord! for love
Is only stronger far than death!

Henry Vaughan


Links for Holy Saturday

April 4, 2015

Holy_Saturday

We’ve not traditionally blogged much on Holy Saturday, but here are some links to past entries and some good sites for those looking for prayers, music and devotionals.

All our Holy Saturday entries

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Resources & Compilations

Poems for Holy Saturday

NEW: Holy Saturday around the Blogosphere 2015

Holy Saturday around the blogosphere (2014)

Kendall Harmon’s wealth of Holy Saturday entries

Holy Week: Index of Holy Week devotionals, prayers, quotes and resources here at Lent & Beyond

A collection of fantastic Holy Week Devotions from the Pontifications blog from 2004

More Pontifications Lent, Holy Week & Easter Devotionals (from 2005)

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Quotes & Devotionals

NEW: Henri Nouwen on Holy Saturday “The Day of God’s Solitude”

NEW: “Life lock’d in death, heav’n in a shell!” – Henry Vaughan

Holy Saturday: Death has seized our Lord Jesus Christ; but shall not keep its hold on Life

WA Criswell: He is dead… He is dead… He is dead. Then, then then…

Lent Quotes: St. Cyril of Jerusalem – He vouchsafed salvation

Three Spiritual Classics for Holy Saturday (from the Pontifications blog archives)

A Homily from Saint Ephrem of Syria

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Music & Poems

Poems for Holy Saturday

Palestrina: Lamentations for Holy Saturday, performed by the Tallis Scholars

Classic CCM for Holy Saturday into Easter: Christian Stephens’ The Descent, and Arise

A Classic CCM Song for Holy Saturday – He Holds the Keys (Steve Green)


Max Lucado – the Main Event

April 3, 2015

He_Chose_Nails_CDThe Cross IS the Main Event of human history.

Listen to Max Lucado’s reflection on this truth from the Holy Week musical “He Chose the Nails” (a great CD released in 2000, accompanying Max Lucado’s devotional of the same name – now out of print.)

 

 

Here is a partial transcript of the words:

[…] History has only one main event.
Scripture has only one main event.
Others matter but only one is essential . . .
David’s defeat of Goliath might reduce your timidity but only the cross prepares you for eternity.

For if there is no cross of Christ, then there is no truth to Christ . . .

To remove the cross is to remove the hingepin from the door of hope, the door of your hope.
For if there is no cross, then there is no sacrifice for sin.
If there is no sacrifice for sin, how will you face the sinless God?
Will you cleanse your own sin?

And if there is no cross of Christ, then there is no resurrection of Christ.
And if there is no resurrection, how will you live again?
Will you push back your own grave?

[…]

Let there be no mistake, the cross is not an event in history,
it is The Event of History.

– words courtesy of Janell Price’s blog Releasing the Word


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