A Prayer for Quiet Contemplation This Holy Saturday - Your Daily Prayer - March 30

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A Prayer for Quiet Contemplation This Holy Saturday
By Kyle Norman

“The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.” Luke 23:55-56

One of the churches where I served had an eternal flame suspended before the altar. An eternal flame is a waxen candle that symbolizes the ever presence of God. As the candle burns down, the flame is “passed” to the next candle. It is a visual representation of the light of Jesus that forever shines upon us. The flame never goes out.

At this church, whenever it celebrated the yearly remembrance of Christ’s death, the eternal candle would be marched out of the sanctuary. What I found fascinating was that the flame appeared to be gone. The church lay in darkness. But, off in the other room, amongst all the robes and books, the candle still flickered. Even though we couldn’t see the flame, it still burned. Christ was still present.

There is something profound about the stillness of Holy Saturday. Traditionally, Holy Saturday is the day when the church affirms that Jesus “descended to the dead.” Jesus entered the place of the dead, releasing the captives from prison and disarming the devilish powers. And yet, as much as we might recognize this day of victory, Holy Saturday is also a day of stillness. Jesus lay motionless in the grave. The stillness of Holy Saturday is a deep expression of the Sabbath. Just as God rested from the activity of creation on the seventh day, so then Jesus rested from the activity of re-creation on this seventh day.

Holy Saturday binds Good Friday and Easter Sunday together. It is a time when we hold two realities before us. We contemplate Christ's death for our sin, a death that was rightfully ours. But we also look to the resurrection, and in that light, we recognize that we can stop all our spiritual strivings. The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday calls us to rest in Christ's presence. The work of sacrifice and offering is complete, and the glory of the resurrection is about to dawn. So on this Holy Saturday, we breathe in all that God has wrought for us. Resting with Jesus on Holy Saturday recalibrates our spiritual lives.

And let’s be honest, we all need this recalibration from time to time. Scripture often talks about how we are called to wait upon the Lord, to be still in the presence of God. Scripture never says, “Hurry up and know that I am God.” The Bible doesn’t say, “Those who are busy for the Lord will renew their strength.” And yet, in this fast-paced world of ours, it can be easy to fall into this trap, to believe that Jesus responds to the plethora of our actions and the manyness of our words. And, so, Holy Saturday calls us to stop. To realize the work has been done. Sin has been atoned for. We are free, and so we rest.

This place of quiet reflection and contemplation calls us to recognize that our redemption isn’t found in the satisfaction of wants and wishes or in the mastery of our time-bound selves. It is found in resting in Christ’s work. We reach out for Jesus’ presence before we reach out for a particular answer or action. We dare to believe that Christ’s stillness does not mean his absence. As we rest, we look forward to the coming resurrection, confident in its arrival.

Let’s pray:

Precious Jesus, I place myself before you in quietness and peace on this Holy Saturday.
As I reflect upon your death on the cross, I thank you for saving work. I thank you that you had me in mind as the nails struck your hands and feet and the spear pierced your side. I thank you for your saving activity on that cross and for setting me free from all the sin that threatens my life with you. Lord, as you rested from your work on that holy day, I pray that you lead me into a time of rest and peace. Help me to still the call of activity in my soul, the frenetic busyness that can easily take over my life. Help me, gracious Lord, to recognize the stillness of your presence, a stillness that beckons me to follow you to a quiet places for my own rest and refreshment. In the quiet places of my day, may you draw my attention to your presence. Push against all that distracts me and overwhelms me. And as my body breathes deeply the air around me, may my soul breathe deeply your spirit of life and peace. Jesus, as you rested that Holy Saturday, awaiting your triumphant resurrection, help me to anticipate the coming of the third day, where you call me to new life. Give me eyes to see where you call me forward in faith, and prepare me, O Lord, to receive your victory anew and to welcome your resurrection in celebration and wonder.
All of this I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/RomoloTavani

SWN authorThe Reverend Dr. Kyle Norman is the Rector of St. Paul’s Cathedral, located in Kamloops BC, Canada.  He holds a doctorate in Spiritual formation and is a sought-after writer, speaker, and retreat leader. His writing can be found at Christianity.com, crosswalk.comibelieve.com, Renovare Canada, and many others.  He also maintains his own blog revkylenorman.ca.  He has 20 years of pastoral experience, and his ministry focuses on helping people overcome times of spiritual discouragement.

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