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Holy Saturday

What is the proper mindset, orientation and activity, for Holy Saturday? Liturgically, we are between the services of Good Friday and our celebration of Easter — whether at the Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday after sundown (when the liturgical Sabbath begins) or at Sunday services, perhaps sunrise service or later in the morning. It is something of an “in-between” time — waiting, pondering — not yet at the Festival of the Resurrection of our Lord, but through the suffering and dying of the Passion. Certainly, altar guilds will be preparing the church for the Easter celebration, but how do we prepare? So close to Easter, yet still so far away.

Martin Luther provided guidance in his essay during Lent of 1519, “A Meditation on Christ’s Passion.”

He wrote, “He who is so hardhearted and callous as not to be terrified by Christ’s passion and led to a knowledge of self, has reason to fear…you should pray God to soften your heart and let you now ponder Christ’s passion with profit to you. Unless God inspires our heart, it is impossible for us of ourselves to meditate thoroughly on Christ’s passion….You must first seek God’s grace and ask that it be accomplished by his grace and not by your own power. That is why the people we referred to above fail to view Christ’s passion aright. They do not seek God’s help for this, but look to their own ability to devise their own means of accomplishing this. They deal with the matter in a completely human but also unfruitful way….Nevertheless we should neither despair nor desist. At times this happens because we do not pray for it as God conceives of it and wishes it, for it must be left free and unfettered…” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 42).

For Luther, meditation on the Passion of our Lord serves to help us see that His suffering and death are the consequences of our sin. He has died in our place, bearing our sins on His cross, and His death and resurrection become ours. On Easter morning, we celebrate His new life as ours, that with joy, we know that “because we have died with the Lord, we will also live with Him” (Romans 6:8).

This Holy Saturday, we seek God’s grace that He will soften our hearts. We ask Him to lead us to a knowledge of our sinful selves, that we may meditate on Christ’s passion in such a way that His death and resurrection will bear fruit in us. Today, we affirm, with Job, that in the midst of and in spite of the trials and tribulations of life, “I know that my Redeemer lives and at the last He will stand upon the earth…and I shall see God.”

Prayer: Almighty God, grant me grace, this Holy Saturday, to have a softened heart, to mediate fruitfully on my Lord’s suffering, passion and death, to celebrate joyfully His resurrection! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Devotion written by the Rev. Dr. David M. Wendel

“”William Augustus Muhlenberg, Priest, 1877″”

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 several challenging years 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.

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