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More Than April Fools: Holy Saturday and The Great Silence.

April 3, 2021

Even fools, when they keep silent, are considered wise, says Proverbs 17:28. When they close their lips, they are considered prudent.

Holy Saturday: The Great Silence

BY TAYLOR BURTON-EDWARDS

This is not the kind of silence one creates by “emptying oneself” (as if that were even actually possible). This is the silence into which we find ourselves knocked when terrible news arrives. This is the silence that those who have grieved deeply have come to know, and at once dread and welcome.

This is the silence of the tomb, or perhaps more accurately, the silence from the tomb. This is the silence that grabs us, if we are paying attention at all, when we contemplate the aftermath of the crucifixion.

This is what Holy Saturday has been about for centuries in the liturgical life of the Church. It is this silence, embodied in an assembly. It is the ultimate silence. The horror of the execution and our role in it was the day before. Facing the violence head on as we do and must on Good Friday also tends to move us into a kind of alternate reality removed from the usual patterns of our lives and thoughts. We can be tricked into thinking it was all just a horrible dream.

But on this day, on Holy Saturday, there is no question left. There was real horror. And the real horror took its real toll. Jesus is dead, buried in a tomb. On Holy Saturday, this reality sinks in.

And so on this day we gather in that silence. Everything we say or do in liturgy springs from that silence and returns to it. That silence– crushing, undeniable, and at times unspeakable.

Just as we do the story of our redemption harm if we skip from Palm Sunday processionals straight to Easter, so we lessen its formative power in our lives if we move from the cross at mid-day on Friday straight to the Great Vigil of Saturday night or the Easter trumpets or Sunrise Service on Sunday morning without making the stop, together, in this silence.

Discipleship Ministries | Holy Saturday: The Great Silence (umcdiscipleship.org)

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