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Holy Saturday

The Church is quiet on Holy Saturday.  The place where we gather for worship is bare.  The presence of Jesus in the Blassed Sacrament is gone and the tabernacle door hangs open.  It is a day to wait and rest and hope.

We do meet at 10 am for a brief Liturgy of the Word, the readings asking us to reflect on the meaning of the line in the Apostles' Creed, "He descended to the dead."

It is a strange thought to think of Jesus among the dead.  Early Christians struggled so with this thought that they came to believe he must have been up to something, even in that place.  It dawned on them that even there he was a teller of good news.  So they began to speculate that he preached the good news to the dead, particularly to those who had died before God's covenant with Noah.  This included Adam and Eve, and Eastern Orthodox icons of the resurrection came to picture Jesus breaking the gates of hell and lifting Adam and Eve to life.

Here are some words of reflection from Martin Smith, a contemporary Episcopal priest, about this strange truth of Holy Saturday:

"The word of the Cross is that no one and no thing is beyond the reach of redemption in Christ.  So the writer [of the First Letter of Peter] paints a mythic image of strangely moving power.  The multitude of the disobedient dead whom God had abandoned in disgust are in the vast prison of Hades. Christ through his own death joins the dead, but as the herald of their liberation. They are not excluded from union with God. The new reconciled community is meant to include them too." (from A Season for the Spirit, p. 160).

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