Podcast Worship

Daily Prayer for Holy Saturday (Holy Week)

Listen to a service of Daily Prayer for Holy Saturday of Holy Week, including a reflection on Matthew 27.57-66


O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Let your ways be known on earth,
your saving power among the nations.

Blessed are you, Lord God of our salvation,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
As a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief
your only Son was lifted up
that he might draw the whole world to himself.
May we walk this day in the way of the cross
and always be ready to share its weight,
declaring your love for all the world.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.

Matthew 27.57-66

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. 

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, ‘Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, “After three days I will rise again.” Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, “He has been raised from the dead”, and the last deception would be worse than the first.’ Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.’ So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone. 


The chief priests and the Pharisees said to Pilate: his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people ‘He has been raised from the dead’.

The chief priests and the Pharisees had won the day – or so it seemed. Jesus, the troublemaking itinerant preacher from Galilee had been silenced. His death had been witnessed by reliable witnesses and he had been laid in a tomb. For the Jewish religious leaders the circle had been closed, and victory was theirs. But … in this moment of victory we can also see uncertainty. 

Some two thousand years on, we know that the crucifixion was not the end of the story. On the third day Jesus conquered death and his Messiahship was proved to be true. But … throughout those two thousand years, and from that first Easter Day, there has been scepticism and disbelief. Those who are most challenged by the teachings and the example of Jesus Christ have sought ways of undermining the veracity of that which lies at the heart of our faith. These challenges begin in today’s reading. After their apparent victory, the chief priests and the Pharisees, those religious whited-sepulchres, began to speak of the deceits that might be preached by Jesus’ disciples. The ancient prophecies were turned around and used to provide a negative ‘spin’ on all that was about to happen.

We are constantly being told that we are living in a secular society, a society in which religious faith is an irrelevance. The sacrament of baptism is being challenged by secular ‘naming ceremonies’; the sacrament of holy matrimony is presented as an insignificant alternative to an all-singing, all-dancing secular ceremony; and the important rite of entrusting our departed loved ones into the eternal care of our loving God is being replaced with ‘direct cremations’, meaning the deceased are left at a crematorium to be fitted in when time and space allows. All of these ‘secular’ alternatives align themselves with the scepticism and ‘fear’ of the Jewish leaders who said that Jesus’ disciples may tell a different story to theirs.

Today we are being challenged to stand firm in our faith. We are being challenged to remember that faith does not rely upon empirical evidence but on trust that God is faithful, generous and loving. We are called to join those who trusted that laying Jesus in a tomb was not the end of the story, that so much more was yet to come.

Let us pray that we might not waver in our faith in the Christ who suffered death in this world, but who was to rise to his ultimate glory as the proven Son of God. Let us pray that, even when we feel hemmed in by worldly sadness and despair, we might not forget that Jesus is always with us and that he has trod that path of sadness and despair before us. Let us pray that we might hold firm in our certainty that the moment of resurrection is almost upon us.


With faith and love and in union with Christ,
let us offer our prayer before the throne of grace.

Have mercy on your people,
for whom your Son laid down his life:
Lord, in your mercy – hear our prayer.

Bring healing and wholeness to people and nations,
and have pity on those torn apart by division:
Lord, in your mercy – hear our prayer.

Strengthen all who are persecuted for your name’s sake,
and deliver them from evil:
Lord, in your mercy – hear our prayer.

Look in mercy upon all who suffer,
and hear those who cry out in pain and desolation:
Lord, in your mercy – hear our prayer.

Bring comfort to the dying,
and gladden their hearts with the vision of your glory:
Lord, in your mercy – hear our prayer.

Give rest to the departed
and bring them, with your saints, to glory everlasting:
Lord, in your mercy – hear our prayer.

Let us commend the world, for which Christ died,
to the mercy and protection of God.

Gracious Father,
you gave up your Son
out of love for the world:
lead us to ponder the mysteries of his passion,
that we may know eternal peace
through the shedding of our Saviour’s blood,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Standing at the foot of the cross,
let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.

Christ crucified draw us to himself,
to find in him a sure ground for faith,
a firm support for hope,
and the assurance of sins forgiven;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.