Holy Saturday

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; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

by Lee Gaby

“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.’ ”                 – Matthew 27:65-66  (NRSV)

Let me tell you what this tomb security thing was all about.  Being a guard involves a lot of standing around on useless assignments.  So, maybe you can understand why I was thinking, “why on earth did Pilate just cave into these ignorant religious nuts.”   And, “Here we go again!”

My buddies and I had to go find a tomb owned by a guy named Joseph, and the whole way I was thinking, “we’re already a day late.”  While I kinda saw the point of the assignment, it irked me that no one thought about the threat of a bunch of grave robbing malcontents from the beginning.   I had seen enough already to be convinced that no dead body was going to get them very far and the idea of someone being raised from the dead was a foolish thing that no one would believe anyway. 

So we got there, and we all began to suggest ideas about the best way to get the job done.  The simplest thing was to pile more stones around the one that was already in place.  One guy thought we could remove it and cut it down to be like more like a cork, the way most tombs were sealed at that time. 

The Jewish guys were no help to us with their impractical ideas.  In the end, we just made sure it wouldn’t roll easily and took up our stations to begin the long watch. 

I guess word got out that it would be pointless to try to get their man. We had done what we were asked to do.  As far as I could tell it seemed like this whole business was over.

When I got back to my place, I began to think some more about what might happen when people woke up the next day.   

You know, the official report says nothing happened while we were there.   A centurion friend of mine is not convinced of that.  If you wait here a little longer, you may be able to hear his account of the story.


Now, imagine it being very dark.  Wonder whether he heard the sound of those outside the tomb, whether he heard the commotion, the piling up of more stones.  Can you see him already standing in their midst?  I strain to somehow understand. There’s that feeling again, of being liminal, on that soft threshold, not really touching solid ground, not really in any place that makes sense.    It is truly like being held in arms unseen, in a place just beneath the clouds, a womb, rather than a tomb. It has been like this before, yet somehow reading the words, “seal the stone,” takes me back, way back, lost, gone, deep inside.   Then he offers me his hand, his no longer God forsaken scarred hand…”Come with me,” He says.


Where we live now, there are three sliding pocket doors that separate the master bedroom, the living room and the den.   In between, there is a small hallway. There are no locks on these doors, and you can move easily from room to room in a few steps.  This small sanctum is another kind of liminal space, and perhaps there’s some place like this that you find yourself now….or as Windy and Mike remind me…you find Jesus teaching you.  

Even when the stones are piled high and it’s dark way down in that place, it is certain, Jesus is unbound!

Lee Gaby lives in Old Lyme, CT

About Mike Pratt

Husband, father, entrepreneur, follower of Jesus, sometimes church planter . . .
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