Holy Saturday

The Rev. Dr. Hilary Oxford Smith

1 June 2017

Holy Saturday


We find ourselves with Mary, the mother of Jesus and the others who loved him, in a place of many overwhelmings this day.

The death of love, the brokenness of life, fear of the unknown, the fading of beauty, paradise lost, the going down into hell.

So many words to describe that word, hell. Underworld, Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, Abraham’s bosom. A place where we come face to face with our deepest dark, our fragility, our captivity to diminishment. A place of abandonment, no fragment of light.

Was Jesus’ death a dread defeat, a victory for demonic forces, a chilling vindication of those who destroy Christ, then or now? Not delivering on his promise to provide a new ordering of life, restoration, forgiveness?

On this day between crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus harrowed out of hell all the dead held captive there since the creation of the world. He took them by the hand and led them to Life.

‘When the gatekeepers of hell saw him, they fled; the bronze gates were broken open, and the iron chains were undone.’[i]

On this Holy Saturday, may we remember the ones

…who know their need, for theirs is the grace of heaven.

…who weep, for their tears will be wiped away.

…who are humble, for they are close to the sacred earth.

…who hunger for earth’s oneness, for they will be satisfied.

…who are forgiving, for they are free.

…who are clear in heart, for they see the Living Presence.

…who are the peacemakers, for they are born of God.[ii]

And so we wait for the Third Day

in stillness

with a fragment of light

trusting and hoping…

©Hilary Oxford Smith

Image Candle for the Easter Vigil, free to use, without license.


[i] Cyril of Alexandria, Ancient Commentary on Scripture 11.107

[ii] The Casa del Sol Blessings of Jesus, based on St. Matthew 5: 3 – 9 from the American Spirituality Center of Casa del Sol at Ghost Ranch.