April 16, 2022. Holy Saturday
Collect: O God, Creator of Heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Holy Saturday is day of rest and waiting for the greatest victory of early Easter morning “When Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave.” In my last parish at Christ Church in La Crosse, Wisconsin I simply wore my black cassock and came to side Chapel of St. George and began short liturgy of Holy Saturday found in the Book of Common Prayer on page 283. A dozen members of Altar Guild and few parishioner attended this service. Following lessons are appointed for today’s reading: Old Testament: Job 14: 1-14, Psalm 31: 1-4, 15-16, epistle: 1 Peter 4: 1-8, Matthew 27: 56-66.
After this brief service Altar Guild cleaned the church, polished the Eucharistic vessels and decorated the High Altar with Easter Lilies. Preparation was carefully and joyfully done to wait upon the Lord.
I am sharing it that you can also read these lessons for your preparation for the Great Feast of the Resurrection.
Here at St. Andrews cathedral in Bor, South Sudan there were 175 mostly young people gathered. This tradition was started in 1994 when Bishop Nathaniel Garang had led a diaspora of more than 50,000 people and walked on foot close to 900 miles to Kakuma refugee Camp in Kenya because of civil war. He gathered his community in Kakuma and asked people to sign on a piece of paper their names who will join him in this movement of Prayer. They will meet every Saturday to fast, praise and pray. Many original members who volunteered have become old or died. Now young persons have taken over this ministry and their group has spread all around South Sudan to evangelize and work for peace. This morning gathered here at St. Andrews all were fasting and came to church to praise, pray and receive teaching. This gathering was from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon. In this service they offered five praise songs, seven prayers for Thanksgiving, intercessions for Episcopal Church in South Sudan. Prayer for peace, prayer for displaced community, prayer for Jongeli State, prayer for the government of South Sudan. Prayer for diaspora of South Sudanese who now live in parts of East Africa, Australia, Canada and USA. Last prayer was for the sick. Several sick people came forward and knelt before the Altar. I laid hands on them with healing prayer. There was a young man who after many years of sickness received healing. He stood up and gave a powerful testimony.
At the end I preached on the text of Matthew 27: 57-66. Followed by Lord’s Prayer and benediction. During the whole three hours of service another torrential rain and strong winds came. Since yesterday’s rain for whole day water is standing in most places in Bor. It is now very slippery. We prayed for a favorable weather for tomorrow that people may attend their churches to celebrate Easter Sunday.
Now here in Bor we come to an end of the day. We pray:
“How Holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn. It cast out pride and hatred, and bring peace and concord” to fallen humanity to be restored in the image of God. ( The Great Vigil of Easter Exsultet)