“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.” – Matthew 27:57-66
Holy Saturday is a day for silence. A Sabbath kind of day, made for resting. A day for mourning, like the disciples. A day for separation, like Mary divided from her son. A day quiet and peaceful as the grave.
They say that Jesus entered the realm of the dead today to free those unfairly imprisoned there. They call it “The Harrowing of Hell.” They used to picture Jesus in full-on Die Hard mode, shouting “Yippeekayay!” and kicking open the doors of hell to escort the innocents to safety.
But “harrow” is an agricultural word. It means to turn over the soil, to mix it up, to mellow it. To turn it into a suitable seedbed in which goodness can take root and grow.
It was so quiet that Saturday. No explosions, no Bruce Willis. Just the silence of tears dripping from cheeks. They thought it was the quiet of the grave, the silence of separation. Really, it was the quiet of garden soil six inches down. The silence of germination, the song of growth, the sound of roots wrapping their way around a stone and starting to pull.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit,” said Jesus. Then they planted him in the ground and watered him with their tears. Spend a little time with your ear to the earth today, and in the silence, you’ll hear the tiny crack of a seed splitting wide.
Oh God, grant me germination. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is the Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, Syracuse, New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.