Silent Saturday – why we don’t have a service for Holy Saturday

Some years ago I found out that in the Netherlands this day is known as ‘Silent Saturday’ which, to me, feels like a far more apt name than Holy Saturday.

I was going to say that this day is like a ‘pregnant pause’ before the joy of Easter. To us it is, but to those first disciples it would have been a day of total numbness and devastation.

Sometimes in our lives we experience this kind of despair, when all hope seems to be lost. For some this can last a lot longer than just one day. Every Easter we journey through the ‘Why?’ of Good Friday, the emptiness of Holy Saturday and then of course, through to the joy of Easter Sunday.

Our lives often have this pattern. Something happens to us and we ask why, we rail against God and wonder why he has ‘forsaken us’. Then we have times when it seems that God is utterly silent, not there even. But for us Christians, our journeys never end on the Saturday, they always end on the Sunday. 

We don’t have a special service for Holy Saturday (we have an Easter Vigil but that’s focusing on Easter, not on the sealed tomb). I think it’s because, sometimes, there is nothing to say, no words to express the emptiness and pain of grief. I think the Church recognises that. We can’t talk our way out of it. Sometimes life is that painful. It’s as if, on Holy Saturday, that the Church behaves like the friends of Job at the beginning of the book:

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads towards heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. – Job 2:11-13

“No one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great”.

There are no words for Holy Saturday. It’s a Silent Saturday.

But if you are experiencing your own silence of grief and devastation in your life at the moment – remember that Sunday always follows. Easter always follows. God hasn’t forsaken us but has come to save us in Jesus Christ.


Sealing the tomb

Image from here


Read what some of my friends have written about Holy Saturday:

Sister Catherine or @digitalnun:

Muriel Sowden on @bigbible:

James Prescott:

Rolf Mason:


Here is a wonderful video prayer for Holy Saturday from the 24-7 Prayer Network:

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