Most of us only see the church during a service, with people in the pews and paraments on the altar, with sounds of friends talking, singing, and praying. One of the privileges of serving on the altar guild is the opportunity to be in the church without others — to be alone in the stillness. The church feels different, and from the solitude springs reflection — a lesson from the Spirit.


Near the entrance to the church is the baptismal fount — our entry into Christian life. We “are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own for ever.” Next to the fount is the Pascal Candle, the symbol of Christ, whose light we are asked to let shine through us into the world.

We also see the parish banner. We have joined with others in our community to worship and to serve our Lord. We call ourselves “St. Philip’s” in honor of an early Christian, one who served the same Lord. Like Philip, we invite those around us to “come and see” [John 1:46] Emmanuel — “God with us”.


We turn and see a lovely sight: the sun streaming through the stained glass illuminates the wall opposite with vibrant color.


The sunlight is changed as it passes through the windows. And God’s light, shining through each of us, is tinted by our lives — by our experiences, our work, our talents, and even our hopes — but it is still God’s light, just as the colors on the wall still have the nature of the sunlight which created them.

Sharing ourselves and sharing God’s light are joined in the Christian life.





Looking at the windows with the warm sun streaming through them, our thoughts are lifted as our eyes are led upward to the vaulted ceiling. Our hearts and minds rise along with our eyes and it is easy to praise God for the beauty and grandeur of creation.



We turn and face the altar, and with a jolt we are reminded that this is Holy Saturday. The altar is bare, the candles extinguished, the paraments removed. Instead of colorful cloths, gold crosses, and a silver chalice, we view an empty altar and a rough wooden cross.


Our entry into God’s Kingdom, our adoption as Children of God, is free to us because the price was paid by our Lord. The message of Good Friday is stark and brusque: Our Savior was beaten, tortured, and killed. For our sins, not his. The cross carried on Good Friday is not an ornament or decoration, but an instrument of death.


Yes, it is Holy Saturday, the day of silence after Good Friday. A day of stillness, for a voice was silenced the day before. One of the paradoxes of Christianity is that in the silencing, God is heard the loudest. The cross is not a decoration, but a declaration. God is talking to us — in the silence of death, Jesus is shouting at us, telling us that God loves us. The cross reflects the light of God, and that light is forever tinted by suffering on the cross, by the message of love.

It is Holy Saturday, the last day of the week, but not the end of the story.

A new week begins tomorrow, and it begins with an astonishing event.

Photos courtesy of Barbara Crain.
Photos copyright Barbara Crain, 2014; all rights reserved.
Text copyright by the author, 2014; all rights reserved.