‘This is a non-day, a time of silent waiting, hardly daring to breathe. There is a tradition which says that between the observance of the Lord’s burial and the kindling of the new fire that marks the start of Easter, the Church remains silent too. Waiting alone in the darkness of a gothic church, with the ribs of the vaulting arching above you like the ribs of some great beached whale, you can pray the prayer of Jonah from the belly of the great fish.’

So writes +David Stancliffe in The Pilgrim Prayerbook.

Holy Saturday is the only day of the year when the eucharist cannot be celebrated. It is a day of mourning, a liminal space and time of waiting in fear and trembling. What about everything Jesus had announced and done throughout his life? Had it all come to an end?

When we visit the tomb under the Aedicule at the Holy Sepulchre (pictured), darkness and silence surround us. Mystery is everywhere. As we kneel in the tomb, silence is filled with all that is on our hearts. How many sorrows, wounds, joys, thanksgivings, fears … have been brought to God from there?

Not only Mary and Martha were crying at the death of their brother Lazarus. Jesus too wept. Because he loved him and was moved by their agony. On this day, we too join in the weeping.

The body of Jesus is truly lying dead and Jesus’s followers are mourning. Meanwhile, a cosmic battle is happening that they have no idea about: Jesus is descending into the dead and defeating death forever. This is the most profound paradox on which our faith is founded.