Podcast Worship

Prayer for Holy Saturday

Listen to a service of Prayer for Holy Saturday, 3 April 2021


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


In the depths of our isolation
we cry to you, Lord God:
give light in our darkness
and bring us out of the prison of our despair;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Psalm 31.1-4, 15-16

In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.

Incline your ear to me;
make haste to deliver me.

Be my strong rock, a fortress to save me,
for you are my rock and my stronghold;
guide me, and lead me for your name’s sake.

Take me out of the net
that they have laid secretly for me,
for you are my strength.

‘My times are in your hand;
deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
and from those who persecute me.

‘Make your face to shine upon your servant,
and save me for your mercy’s sake.’

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

Matthew 27.57-65

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.


… Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb …

Over the last year people have had to find a new way of marking the end of the earthly life of loved ones. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic funerals were often very big events with many people gathering to remember a person who had been dear to them in some way. In recent years the size of funeral congregations has grown ever larger, with greater expectations of the ‘party’ that followed the service and committal. As the scale of funerals has increased, so has the expectation that the funeral will be nothing more than a ‘celebration’ of the life that has ended. Many have made themselves fit into this new pattern when all they have really wanted to do is to cry and to say goodbye. And that is where we are today.

Jesus is dead. Jesus was betrayed, denied, condemned, mocked, and executed. If it had not been for the timely intervention and generosity of Joseph of Arimathea his body would have been left hanging on the cross. But Joseph and the two faithful women wanted to lay Jesus’ broken body to rest in a decent and reverent way. As far as Pilate was concerned the job was done; he could find no reason to prevent the body being taken down and buried. But, this was not a time for celebration … this was a time of loss and sorrow. This was not the moment to eat the equivalent of sandwiches and cake, but the time to weep with those terrible words, It is finished, still ringing out loud and clear.

In our reading there is a glimmer of hope, though. We are privileged to be able to look back two thousand years and recall that the desolation of this day will be short-lived. This was not the case for Jesus’ faithful followers. But … the religious leaders who had been instrumental in orchestrating Jesus’ execution did recall talk of resurrection, and they were fearful. They warned of impostors and subterfuge, but we must wonder whether, in the backs of their minds, they realized what might be about to happen. After all, they are the ones who had studied the ancient prophecies for many years.

The death of someone dear to us is always a moment of tragedy, but this death was different. On this Holy Saturday the tragedy will soon come to an end and the truth of Jesus’ resurrection will dawn on the world. Soon will come the night of new beginnings, the night when death and sin will be conquered by the rising again of Jesus, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Saviour of the world, the risen and conquering Son of God.

Let us give thanks for that moment today and every day.

Prayers of Intercession

In quiet confidence and joyful expectation, let us pray to the Lord.

With sorrow and hope we offer our worship this day. Grant to all the faithful the grace to wait upon your will in peace and stillness.

Bring to busy, restless humanity the blessing of calm. May the message of hope be preached even in the darkest places of the world.

Bless our families with the peace of Christ. Heal disputes and divisions in our community with the remembrance that Christ suffered for us all, even to death.

Give rest to the tired minds and bodies of those for whom Christ suffered in the flesh.

Have mercy on all who mourn, and give them confidence in a new and greater life. Be close to those who sleep now in death. Come to the dying, and bring them with Jesus through the tomb into eternal life.

Through the peace of trust and repose in Jesus Christ, we offer these our prayers.

Prayer for Holy Saturday

Father of mercies and God of love,
in his last word from the cross
your Son our Saviour committed his spirit
into your hands.
We today would do the same.
In your hands alone we are secure:
there is no other place where we would be.
And so, our Father, receive us now,
as into your hands we commit ourselves,
our souls and bodies,
in life and in death,
for time and for eternity.

The Lord’s Prayer

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. Amen.

The Grace

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.


This is the night of new beginnings.
This is the night when heaven meets earth.
This is the night filled with God’s glory,
promise of our new birth!

Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light! Shine in your church gathered today.

This is the night Christ our Redeemer
rose from the grave triumphant and free,
leaving the tomb of evil and darkness
empty for all to see.

Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light! Shine in your church gathered today.

Sing of the hope deeper than dying.
Sing of the power stronger than death.
Sing of the love endless as heaven,
dawning throughout the earth.

Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light! Shine in your church gathered today.

Bernadette Farrell (b. 1957)