Today, in the liturgical calendar in the West, is Holy Saturday. (The Orthodox Easter does not come this year until the last week of April.) This is, of course, the day that falls between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In the East this day is called, appropriately,  "the great Sabbath." It has been esteemed even more highly than Good Friday, which is esteemed much more in the West. In the Catholic Church this day brings about things like the consecration of the new fire, the consecration of the Easter candle, etc.

Luther had such an aversion to all these Catholic celebrations. He virtually ended them in Wittenberg. In 1521 and 1522 he preached special sermons on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. All Catholic "abuses" were removed and traditional evangelical connections to these days were brought back to the center of the liturgy. This meant that preaching became central to the whole week.

Over time this stance softened and today Lutherans, and even the Reformed to varying degrees, will celebrate the various days of Holy Week, even with things like communion, foot washing, etc. Most, however, do not do much at all on Holy Saturday. I note that one local Lutheran Church has a prayer vigil that began at the conclusion of Good Friday services last evening and ends at Easter tomorrow morning. You can drop by and pray and experience the light of many candles as you remember Christ being buried on this day before his rising from the dead on the morning of the next. It seems that a blending of various traditions is becoming more and more popular in various evangelical settings. I welcome this so long as the preaching of the Gospel remains central. We must make sure we "hear" the gospel.

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  1. Rich March 24, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Last year I read Alan Lewis’s huge book on Holy Saturday. It really changed my whole perspective on the shape of Holy Week. Click on my Name for a short summary. Hope its helpful to stir more thoughts – better yet, the book is fantastic!

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