January 27, 2021

Holy Saturday 2012

The Entombment of Christ, Badalocchio

John 19:38-42

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Since I work with hospice, and comfort the kin of those who die, the hushed grief of late Good Friday and Holy Saturday is intimately familiar to me.

Just yesterday I sat for a few hours with a family after their loved one had passed. His adult son wouldn’t leave the room until they came to remove the body. He sat in absolute silence, still, a statue of sadness. Others puttered about, their eyes red and swollen. The deceased’s wife mourned by keeping quietly busy, making lists, making phone calls, finding documents, asking questions about procedures, checking messages on the computer, assigning tasks to others. A few little children, blissfully untouched by reality, played and colored and laughed and sang and danced and acted like children. Like flowers in the graveyard — fragile beauty distracting our gaze from the markers of death. But even they lowered their voices. Moving or still, the volume in the house had been turned down to little more than a whisper.

Mostly we sat and waited.

When they came to take him away, we gathered at his bedside and prayed together from the valley of the shadow of death, groping around in the darkness for some tangible evidence of rod and staff.

And then all was silence, except for the creaking of the cart as the lifeless body was lifted onto it, covered, and wheeled out of the house.

And then, the utter silence.


  1. Death is a terrible thing. It rips away our existence and tears the guts out of those who remain.


    Thank you, Lord, that you have done something about this condition that we will all find ourselves in (and closer than we think).

  2. CM, and I Monestary

    As others have asked I’ll post here. I think I am losing my mind this weekend. I’m attending three services. I have one down and two on the schedule for tomorrow. Here’s what happened….

    Last night I recevied a text message from a friend and he asked if I wanted to attend National Community Church for their 11:00 Good Friday service. I chewed on it, and after some thought decided to attend. The last time I attended a NCC service was about 4 years ago. I was afraid of bumping into someone I knew. But that didn’t happen. This was the NCC location at 8th and I street barracks.

    So this is the dilemma that I thought about when I was listening to Heather Zempel teach. Man I wish I could have had a sit down with John Piper or Tim Challis and asked the following question…

    Tim/John which is the bigger sin as an agnostic? Ignoring God and walking boldly into hell with pride? Or is it listening to Heather Zempel, the teaching Pastor at NCC quute scripture and teach me… a man?


    There she is above, quoting scripture and teaching. What has this world come to… Oh dear… What does one do….

    I did have a thought that popped up in my noodle that really got me thinking. When they were teaching about the criminal on the cross mocking Jesus, and asking Jesus to “save himself” it really reminded me of how Richard Dawkins, and other “New Atheists” approach God or treat the subject of God. The same kind of mocking and the same kind of “Prove this…” Luke 23:39-43. It’s the same kind of tone. I’ve been chewing on that this afternoon as well.

    The one thing that did impress me last night was when they said the “Our Father” not as Protestants have said it; but as Catholics. That stunned me…The version they said was what I was taught in Catholic school growing up.

    Anyhow I am going to pop into a regular evangelical chruch and then I’ve been asked to attend a hyper Calvinista Sovereign Grace with my friend. I told him in the past that I will commit to one service. And tomorrow will be it. 😯

    You know how many services I attended last year? 3 and I walked out of one early becuase I was not impressed. So after this I guess I can take the rest of the year off! 😛

    I’ll let you know how things go…

    • Eagle,

      Did you OD from all the church going? Just kidding (kinda). I hope for your sake that you found a moment or two of comfort from Jesus… I went back for a visit ( to evangelical church) after seven years of not setting my foot in any church, I remember coming away empty, bored & confused…

      So, you were raised as a Catholic, aye? I was indoctrinated against the Catholic Church back in my fundy days… WTH?

      It is a mystery why I am attending there now… So, you must know about Holy/Good Friday when the priests bring the cross to the alter for adoration… That got to me, seeing all those people kneeling & kissing the cross.
      Thanks for the update, if time permits I hope to hear more.

  3. Elizabeth says

    Utter silence – because there are no words to express the grief and the wise know there are few words that comfort in those early moments. When the shock wears off, then we face what we truely believe – Christ is waiting for us to remember.

    • Elizabeth says

      My nephew passed from this world three weeks ago after a 5 year battle with Leukemia. It was the going home of a son of the Almightly God, but the silence, the pain of seperation, is still almost touchable.

  4. I remember just about every moment of that holy horrible night when my brother went home. Now I understand a little better how Jesus’ followers felt those awful nights before Sunday morning. But, I don’t understand entirely, because I have a hope. It’s based on the events of that Sunday. It takes away some of the sting, but not all of it.

  5. Of English poets, Emily Dickenson says it best:

    The bustle in a house
    The morning after death
    Is solemnest of industries
    Enacted upon earth,–

    The sweeping up the heart,
    And putting love away
    We shall not want to use again
    Until eternity.

    She also said: “Parting is all we know of heaven/And all we need of hell.”

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