Lent Devotion for March 31, Holy Saturday
The early Church observed what was called the Easter Vigil. The service began at midnight and ushered in Easter morning. One of the central aspects of the service is the reading of the story of God’s redemption of His creation. In telling that story, various portions of Scripture are read, starting at the beginning. It helps in placing the Resurrection in context of the whole of the working of God. The following are those passages.
Reader: "The following passages tell God’s story of redemption.”
Response: "This is a day of Sabbath rest as Jesus lays in the tomb.”
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
THE FALL OF HUMANS
1 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.
8 When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. 9 Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”
11 “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”
12 The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”
13 Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?”
“The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”
14 Then the Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this, you are cursed
more than all animals, domestic and wild.
You will crawl on your belly,
groveling in the dust as long as you live.
15 And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
16 Then he said to the woman,
“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband,
but he will rule over you.”
17 And to the man he said,
“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree
whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,
the ground is cursed because of you.
All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you,
though you will eat of its grains.
19 By the sweat of your brow
will you have food to eat
until you return to the ground
from which you were made.
For you were made from dust,
and to dust you will return.”
PARADISE LOST: GOD'S JUDGMENT
20 Then the man—Adam—named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who live. 21 And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.
22 Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!” 23 So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. 24 After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
GOD PROVIDES DELIVERANCE FOR HIS PEOPLE
10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
ESCAPE THROUGH THE RED SEA
15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”
19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the seaon dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
23 The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. 24 During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. 25 He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”
26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” 27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.
29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30 That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.
ESCAPE THROUGH THE RED SEA
20 Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them:
“Sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea.”
INVITATION TO THE LORD'S SALVATION
1 “Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.
4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a ruler and commander of the peoples.
5 Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendor.”
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.
9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
SIN'S POWER IS BROKEN
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
To keep up with our reading in “The Year of the Book,” the plan we have at FPCO for reading through the entire Bible this year, you will want to read all four chapters of the book of Ruth today in addition to the above passages. You recall that God rested on the seventh day of creation, He rested from all the work He had done. His Son, Jesus, likewise “rested” in the tomb on the seventh day of the week from all the work of redemption He had done. God rested from creation and Jesus rested from redemption. God’s rest was as a result of all of creation. Jesus rest was for the redemption of all of creation, not just God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel. Reading the book of Ruth today is most appropriate. Here is why. You read the passage above in Isaiah these words: “You also will command nations you do not know, and peoples unknown to you will come running to obey.” Ruth was one of those who came running. Remember, Ruth was from the country of Moab, a people hostile to the Israelites who came into being through the incestuous relationship between Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and his daughters. From a horrible situation with a people despised and rejected by God’s people, and coming from the outside, Ruth embraced the faith of God’s people with the famous statement “your God is my God” and was adopted into the family. She became the great-grandmother of King David and wound up being listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. (Mt.1:5) Rather than dither around this Holy Saturday, make it a time of rest and reflection for the incalculable occurrence happened. The tomb became the womb for a new creation, and an everlasting life was made available to all of creation.
See you at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts tomorrow at 9 & 11 AM EST. You can also watch it live-streamed at fpco.org/live.
"St. Matthew Passion" by J.S. Bach (Watch on YouTube)
(In German and has translation running across the screen.) This is the gospel sung. Many music critics consider this one of the greatest pieces ever written along with Handel’s Messiah. Interesting that both tell the gospel story with Scripture as the text.
"Lux Aeternam" from Morten Lauridsen, Los Angeles Master Chorale (Watch on YouTube)
This is one of the exquisite choral pieces of the 20th century. It reflects some of the thoughts of this day. 28 minutes in length. Listen and reflect on the text. The translation is below.
The translation is as follows:
Lux Aeterna Morten Lauridsen’s
1. Requiem Aeternam
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine
Rest eternal grant to them, Lord;
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
and let perpetual light shine on them.
Te decet hymnus Deus in Zion,
A hymn befits Thee, O God in Zion,
et tibi redetur
and to thee shall be fulfilled
votum in Jerusalem.
a vow in Jerusalem.
exaudi orationem meam,
Hear prayer my,
ad te omnis caro veniet.
For unto thee all flesh shall come.
2. In Te, Domine, Speravi
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem
To deliver us, you became man
non horruisti Virginis uterum.
not disdaining the Virgin’s womb
Tu devicto mortis aculeo,
You overcame death’s sting,
aperuisti credentibus regna coelorum.
and opened to believers the kingdom of heaven.
Exortum est in tenebris lumen rectis.
Risen in the darkness is a light for the upright.
Miserere nostri, Domine,
Have mercy on us, Lord
Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos
Let it be Thy mercy, Lord, be upon us
quemadmodum speravimus in te.
as we have trusted in thee.
In te Domine, speravi:
In thee Lord, I have trusted
non confundar in aeternum.
Let me never be confounded.
3. O Nata Lux
O nata lux de lumine,
O born light of light,
Jesu redemptor saeculi,
Jesus redeemer of age,
dignare clemens supplicum
mercifully deem worthy and accept
laudes preces que sumere.
the praises prayers of your supplicants.
Qui carne quondam contegi
Who in flesh once deigned to be clothed
dignatus es pro perditis,
in flesh for the sake of the lost ones,
Nos membra confer effici,
Grant us to be made
,tui beati corporis.
members of your blessed body.
4. Veni Sancte Spiritus
Veni Sancte Spiritus
Come, Holy Spirit
Et emitte coelitus
And send forth from heaven
Lucis tuae radium
A ray of your light.
Veni, pater pauperum,
Come, Father of poor,
Veni, dator munerum,
Come, giver of gifts,
Veni, lumen cordium.
Come, light of hearts.
Thou best of Consolers,
Dulcis hospes animae,
sweet guest of the soul,
In labore requies,
In labor, the rest,
In aestu temperies,
in heat, the tempering,
In fletu solatium.
In grief, the solace.
O lux beatissima,
O light most blessed,
Reple cordis intima
fill of hearts depths
of all your faithful.
Sine tuo numine,
Without your nod/consent,
Nihil est in homine,
nothing is in man,
Nihil est innoxium,
nothing is not harmful,
Lava quod est sordidum,
Cleanse what is sordid,
Riga quod est aridum,
Moisten what is arid,
Sana quod est saucium.
Heal what is hurt.
Flecta quod est rigidum,
Flex what is rigid,
Fove quod est frigidum,
Warm what is frigid,
Rege quod est devium.
Correct what is devious.
Da tuis fidelibus,
Give to your faithful,
In te confidentibus,
Those trusting in you,
Thy sacred seven-fold gifts.
Da virtutis meritum,
Grant the reward of virtue,
Da salutis exitum,
Grant the deliverance of salvation,
Da perenne gaudium.
Grant everlasting joy.
5. Agnus Dei –Lux Aeterna
Lamb of God
qui tollis peccata mundi,
(you) who take away sins of world,
dona eis requiem.
grant the rest.
dona eis requiem sempiternam
grant them rest everlasting.
Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine.
Light eternal shine upon them, Lord.
Cum sanctis tuis in aeternum
with your saints for eternity
quia pius es.
For you are merciful
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine:
Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord;
et lux perpetua luceat eis. Alleluia. Amen.
and let perpetual light shine on them. Alleluia. Amen.
"Requiem" by John Rutter from BBC television ( Watch on YouTube)
O God, in baptism we share in the death of your Son our Savior; give us true repentance that we pass with Him through the grave and gate of death, and be reborn to new life in joy, through Him who died, was buried, and who rose for us, Jesus our Lord. Father, we praise you that by our Lord’s rest in the tomb of Joseph, He has sanctified the grave and robbed it of its finality. It is meet and right, holy Father, almighty, eternal God, at all times to give praise to thy goodness; but on this night and day the more abundantly, from souls exulting in joy. For this night is the mother not of darkness but of light, whereon day rose forever; even our resurrection. Lord Jesus Christ, your sacrifice brought liberation to the living and the dead. By your victory, the whole creation was redeemed. We commend all we are and have in thy hands. This we pray through Jesus Christ, our sole hope of salvation. Amen.
- Prayers for Sunday Services, p.93-94, adapted by Daniel Sharp