Holy Saturday (The Day of Nothingness) for services prior to the Paschal Vigil
30 March 2024 All day
Below you will find the Bible readings set for this occasion in the Revised Common Lectionary, with our Australian idiomatic paraphrases of them.
Bible Readings (paraphrased)
Lections from The Revised Common Lectionary. Copyright 1992 by the Consultation on Common Texts(CCT) P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville, TN 37203-0003, USA. Used with Permission.
Job 14: 1-14
Job addressed God saying:
What happened to dying ‘old and full of days’?
‘Few of days and full of grief’
seems to be the lot of everyone born.
Like flowers, we’re lucky to survive the heat of a single day;
like shadows, we never survive the fall of night.
So why have you set your sights on me?
Why are you dragging me into court as though I was your equal?
How can anyone like me, born in the gutter,
expect to come out clean on legal street? Not a chance!
The length of our lives is already set.
You have decided how long we’ve got,
and when our number’s up, there is nothing we can do about it.
So why not back off and give us a break?
Can’t we do our time without you standing over us?
A tree can still have hope
even if it is cut down in its prime.
There is every chance
that it will sprout again and flourish.
Even if its stump rots away
and its roots wither in the ground,
it only needs a whiff of water and it buds again
and comes up strong like a young plant reborn.
But we mere mortals die, and that’s it.
Dead and buried, no human is ever seen again.
Just like a lake drying out in a never ending drought,
or a river fading to a trickle and then its gone,
so too we mortals crumble to dust
with no hope of a second time round.
We think we’ll wake up in the morning,
but no way! Not till hell freezes over.
If only the land of the dead was just a prison
and you could lock me safely away till your anger cools down.
You could fix my sentence
and remember me when my time was done.
Then I could serve my time and hang on to hope,
as I counted down the days till my release.
When we mere mortals die, that’s it, isn’t it?
©2013 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net
Lamentations 3: 1-9, 19-24 (alternative 1st reading)
I have borne the brunt of your anger, God.
I have suffered the punishment you dished out.
You drove me away from the light
and left me facing the darkness alone.
You singled me out for a beating;
and belted me around day and night.
Under your hand, my body wasted away,
and my bones were cracked and broken.
You were constantly in my face,
standing over me, keeping me in fear.
You locked me up in darkness
and death seemed close at hand.
You have fenced me in with barbed wire,
and chained my ankles for good measure.
I can cry for help all I like,
but you’ve blocked your ears.
You built permanent blockades on every road.
Wherever I go, I am turned back.
The reality I’m facing is like a bitter taste in my mouth.
Grief and deprivation poison my mind.
I can’t stop thinking about it over and over,
but every thought makes me want to die.
The one thing that gives me hope,
the one thing I keep reminding myself of is this:
Your love and loyalty never die, LORD.
Your generous mercy never runs dry.
They are created new every morning
and you are as trustworthy as the solid rock.
So I keep telling myself that you are all I need
and that I can still trust you to come through for me.
©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net
Psalm 31: 1-4, 15-16
I look to you for refuge, LORD;
don’t let me be dragged through the mud.
You promised justice – save me!
Give me your ear – I’m crying for help;
rescue me before it’s too late.
Be a secure refuge for me,
a bomb shelter where I can hide.
Your solid walls protect me from danger;
lead me and guide me so I’ll be a credit to you;
keep me clear of pitfalls and traps.
You are the only refuge I trust, LORD;
my future is in your hands.
Snatch me from the grasp
of those who are hunting me down.
I’m working for you; look on me with love.
Stand by me and save me.
©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net
1 Peter 4: 1-8
The Messiah put his body on the line and went through serious suffering, and so now you need to steel yourselves to face it with the same guts and determination. Those who keep putting their bodies on the line at great cost have clearly cut their ties with sin. Even in this age of indulging every bodily appetite, you will be able to live through it, freely following the ways of God instead of being driven slavishly by every pathetic desire. You have already done more than enough time being driven along in the ways of the godless by such desires, caught up in a life of desperate partying, emotional chaos, binge drinking, sexual regrets, self-degradation, and out-of-control worship of worthless things. Your old friends can’t believe it when you are no longer first to join them in the same old patterns of compulsive indulgence. “Are you too good for us now?” they sneer, and they heap offensive insults on all that is good. But they will have to answer to God for their offences, as everyone will, living or dead. This is the reason that the great news about God’s love was broadcast even to those who have died. That way, even though the judgement of the way they lived in their bodies is now in the past — indeed none of us can take back what we have done — they still have the opportunity to live in the spirit as God lives.
Everything is about to be wrapped up, so keep your wits about you, your heads clear, and your prayers focussed. And make it your number one priority to keep loving one another, no matter what. Any number of offences will be forgotten if love stays on the job.
©2013 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net
Matthew 27: 57-66
A few hours after Jesus had died, a wealthy man from Arimethea went to Pilate and asked permission to take the body of Jesus for burial. The man’s name was Joseph, and he was a follower of Jesus. Pilate gave orders for the body to be released into his care. Joseph took the body and wrapped it in clean linen cloth. He buried Jesus in a new tomb which he had had cut into the rock for his own eventual use. He rolled a boulder over the entrance to the tomb to seal it, and then went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting opposite the tomb watching all this.
The next day was still part of the sacred festival, and a deputation of the chief priests and members of the Pharisee party held an early meeting with Pilate. They said, “Sir, we have remembered that while that con man was still alive, he claimed that he would rise again three days after his death. So please give orders to have guards secure the tomb for the next three days so that his fan club can’t steal his body and start telling everyone that he has been raised from the dead. A fraud like that would be even more dangerous than the pack of lies he was pushing before.”
Pilate said to them, “Fair enough. There are security guards at your disposal. Go and do whatever you think is necessary to prevent anyone tampering with the tomb.”
So they took the security guards, taped off the area around the tomb, sealed the stone, and kept it under constant surveillance.
©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net
John 19: 38-42 (alternative gospel reading)
Once Jesus was well and truly dead, a man went to Pilate and got permission to take the body for burial. His name was Joseph of Arimethea, and he had been a closet follower of Jesus, because he was afraid for his reputation with the Temple hierarchy. He and Nicodemus, who had first spoken to Jesus in the quiet of night, removed the body. Nicodemus supplied the embalming spices, and as was the Jewish custom, they wrapped the body with the spices in linen cloth. There was a memorial garden not far from the place where Jesus was crucified, and there was a tomb there which had not yet been used. Because it was the day of preparation and there was little time, they buried Jesus in that tomb.
©2001 Nathan Nettleton Laughingbird.net