The Open Table, Holy Week 2016

Following the Last Supper of Maundy Thursday and the darkness of the cross on Good Friday, on Holy Saturday, the church continues in prayer, waiting at the tomb.  The suffering is over, but Easter has not come yet.  Consider sitting at an empty table, or in front of an unlit candle to represent this time of waiting.  If you like, you can pick one or both of the scripture passages below to begin with.

Psalm 130, CEB

John 19:38-42, CEB

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Alan Lewis was a professor of constructive and modern theology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas.  While writing his book, Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday, he experienced his own Holy Saturday in suffering from and finally succumbing to cancer.  The paragraph below is an excerpt from the Prologue of his book:

“Faith’s supreme drama tells of three days which form the center and the turning point of history.  All the action and emotion, it seems belong to two days only: despair and joy, dark and light, defeat and victory, the end and the beginning…” Lewis goes on to say that it’s not that it’s second in a series of three days that’s important.  “Not its number in the series, but its place, bears its significance, as that day between the days which speaks solely neither of the cross nor of the resurrection, but simultaneously remembers the one and awaits the other, and guarantees that neither will be heard, or thought about, or lived, without the other.”  Lewis suggests that this in-between time is something we need to make our own, and may be the key “to learning how to live and even how to die.”


If anything comes to mind—personal concerns, friends or family, thoughts about others around the world, feel free to say their names or a brief prayer at this time.  When you’re finished, receive the blessing below.

“For the Interim Time”

When near the end of day, life has drained
Out of light, and it is too soon
For the mind of night to have darkened things,

No place looks like itself, loss of outline
Makes everything look strangely in-between,
Unsure of what has been, or what might come.

In this wan light, even trees seem groundless.
In a while it will be night, but nothing
Here seems TO believe the relief of dark.

You are in this time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.

The path you took to get here has washed out;
The way forward is still concealed from you.

“The old is not old enough to have died away;
The new is still too young to be born.”

You cannot lay claim to anything;
In this place of dusk,
Your eyes are blurred;
And there is no mirror.

Everyone else has lost sight of your heart
And you can see nowhere to put your trust;
You know you have to make your own way through.

As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
From all you have outgrown.

What is being transfigured here is your mind,
And it is difficult and slow to become new.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.


John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, 2008.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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