8:3 By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
– Romans 8:3-11
This day we refer to as Holy Saturday is one for which we have little detail. It is the day between two significant days — Good Friday on the one side and Easter Sunday on the other. What happened that day, in the saving and redeeming work of God, we cannot say for sure. What significance it holds for our lives today, it is hard to make any certain and secure claims.
We do, however, speak of it in the Apostles’ Creed. We confess each week that Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day He rose again.” The original text of the creed says that “He descended to the dead.” What does it mean when we confess that Jesus “descended into hell” or “to the dead?” Some speculate that Jesus completed His battle with Satan and his legions. Others find significance in His descending to the deepest depths before, in His ascension, being raised to the highest heights. Martin Luther was bold enough to claim that after the events of Good Friday, “God’s very self lay dead in the grave.”
We may never know what happened on that Saturday in between. But what we do not know does not matter. What matters is what we know. What we know is that Jesus was victorious over sin, over death, over the power of the devil. What we know is that His victory is now ours in the Great Exchange that happened on the cross. Our sin was given to Him. His righteousness was given to us. He was rejected and we were made right. He died and we live.
On that day in between those two most significant days, we know without question that whatever happened was for us. And so, we trust in God. And so, we believe in His promises. And so, we find our security and hope in what was accomplished for us in Christ.
Prayer: Lord God, on this day about which we know so little, thank You for accomplishing so much … for us. Amen.
Lenten Response: Before moving on to the celebration of Easter, think back on the journey of Lent and what you learned.
Devotion written by the Rev. Daniel Selbo
Job 19:21–27 (Listen)
21 Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has touched me!
22 Why do you, like God, pursue me?
Why are you not satisfied with my flesh?
23 “Oh that my words were written!
Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
24 Oh that with an iron pen and lead
they were engraved in the rock forever!
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
27 whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!
Hebrews 4 (Listen)
4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,
“As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”
although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said,
“They shall not enter my rest.”
6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Jesus the Great High Priest
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Romans 8:1–11 (Listen)
Life in the Spirit
8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Psalm 43 (Listen)
Send Out Your Light and Your Truth
43:1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?
3 Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
Psalm 149 (Listen)
Sing to the Lord a New Song
149:1 Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the godly!
2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
3 Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
5 Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
7 to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishments on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with chains
and their nobles with fetters of iron,
9 to execute on them the judgment written!
This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 23 (Listen)
The Lord Is My Shepherd
A Psalm of David.
23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
Psalm 114 (Listen)
Tremble at the Presence of the Lord
114:1 When Israel went out from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
2 Judah became his sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.
3 The sea looked and fled;
Jordan turned back.
4 The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like lambs.
5 What ails you, O sea, that you flee?
O Jordan, that you turn back?
6 O mountains, that you skip like rams?
O hills, like lambs?
7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
8 who turns the rock into a pool of water,
the flint into a spring of water.
Richard, Bishop of Chichester, 1253 (April 3)
About the Commemoration
Richard of Wyche was born in Droitwich, England, in 1197. As a young man he postponed his studies to restore the family farm after poor management by a guardian. He studied at Oxford under Robert Grosseteste (see October 9) and earned a degree in civil law from Bologna; in 1235 he became chancellor of Oxford but was soon called to be chancellor of the diocese of Canterbury of which his friend Edmund Rich was archbishop. When King Henry III forced Edmund into exile, Richard went with him to France and after Edmund’s death was ordained priest in France in 1243. He returned to England and soon afterwards, in 1244, was elected Bishop of Chichester. His election led to a battle of wills between Henry III, who had appointed his own candidate, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Although Richard was confirmed and consecrated by the pope in 1245, it was two years until the king gave way under threat of excommunication by the pope and Richard was allowed to take full possession of the diocese (1246).
Richard was a reformer of the state of the Church, merciless toward simony and nepotism, a man of simple personal habits, generous in his charities, strict with his clergy, and comfortable among the humbler people of his diocese. He died at Dover April 3, 1253, the day after consecrating a new church there in honor of his teacher, St. Edmund.
The essence of St. Richard’s life is revealed in the prayer attributed to him:
Thanks be to thee, O Lord Jesus Christ,
For all the benefits thou hast given me,
For all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me:
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother,
May I know thee more clearly,
May I love thee more dearly,
May I follow thee more nearly,
Day by day.
Richard was canonized in 1262. His shrine in Chichester Cathedral was destroyed by order of Henry VIII in 1538. Richard is on the calendar in the Book of Common Prayer; he is not on the General Roman Calendar.
Excerpts from New Book of Festivals & Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints by Philip H. Pfatteicher, copyright, 2008 by Fortress Press, an imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
See also: Richard of Chichester
From The Life of St. Richard by Ralph Bocking
Now it once happened that a pregnant woman, who was indeed guilty and deserved her punishment, was being held captive in bonds and in custody in one of the bishop’s manors. When this became known to the bishop, he found an opportunity and went to the place where the same woman was held in confinement. After the warden of the prison had been directed by him on purpose to other things, he approached nearer and asked the woman the reason for her imprisonment. He learnt that she was to be handed over for execution, and that her death was to be postponed only till she had given birth. Thereupon giving her such help and instruction as he could, he advised her to repent of her sins, and to take refuge in a church which was close at hand; and this she did. The news of this spread abroad, and came to the ears of the Chief Steward, who went worried and with a long face to the episcopal palace. When the bishop made enquiry for the reasons of his distress, he replied, “Small wonder; for because of the escape of a woman from prison, we shall have to pay out of our poverty a hundred shillings to the King.” The bishop exclaimed, “What or how much are a hundred silver shillings to the freeing of one captive. Blessed be God who has set her free!”
Ralph Becking, The Life of St. Richard, book 1, chap. 3, para. 37, Acta Sanctorum, April 1 (5 June 1986): 293, trans. Antony Snell, S.S.M.
We thank you, Lord God, for all the benefits you have given us in your Son Jesus Christ, our most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, and for all the pains and insults he has borne for us; and we pray that, following the example of your saintly bishop Richard of Chichester, we may see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
LFF, from a prayer attributed to Richard
Readings: Psalm 84:7-12 or Psalm 3; Philippians 4:10-13; Matthew 25:31-40
Hymn of the Day: “Day by day, dear Lord, of thee three things I pray” (H82 654), by St. Richard; “Let us ever walk with Jesus” (LBW 487, L-SB 685, ELW 802)
Prayers: For the diocese of Chichester, its cathedral, bishop, clergy, and people; For all bishops and church administrators; For grace to know, love, and follow Christ.
Preface: A Saint(2) (BCP)
This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After a challenging year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.