Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16

1 In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; * deliver me in your righteousness.

2 Incline your ear to me; * make haste to deliver me.

3 Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe, for you are my crag and my stronghold; *
for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.

4 Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me, *
for you are my tower of strength.

15 My times are in your hand; *
rescue me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.

16 Make your face to shine upon your servant, * and in your loving-kindness save me.

Today is a quiet day in the Church. There is a strange silence which takes hold. Whilst in many places altar guilds and flower folk are preparing for Sunday’s celebrations, liturgically this is the one day of the year where the Eucharist is not celebrated. There is a pause in our communal life.

Yesterday at the cross we saw several characters. The three which always fascinate me are the three Marys. Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of the Lord and Mary of Clopas. These three women are left today, saddened and confsued.

Mary the Mother of Christ, of course, was warned by the aged Simeon in the Temple that a sword would pierce her own heart. My guess is when that spear was thrust into Jesus’ side felt exactly like it was going through her own body. Mary Magdalene has often had a bad reputation in the Church due to a confusion sometime in the fourth century. But she is a loyal disciple. After the crucifixion she follows to the tomb and, in Matthew, is a sad figure sitting outside as others leave.

Mary Clopas is listed as the wife of Herod’s steward. Think about it – the wife of the chief of Herod’s household is standing at the cross.

These women will wake to new life tomorrow but today let’s sit with them and their stories.They have followed Jesus, taken risks for Jesus, they have turned their lives inside out for Jesus, and now they have lost Jesus in the most cruel way the Roman Empire could devise. Imagine the eerie quiet as they leave the hilltop, that deep aching silence of sorrow.

Today they are observing Sabbath but it is a day of little rest and no celebration. Jesus is gone, all is deathly still and they look to wake only the the realization of sorrow.

 The Collect

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Music. The Russian Kontakion of the Departed