A Holy U-Turn

I like to keep moving. Not one to dilly dally. If I spot a red light ahead, I take a detour just to keep moving. If I spy a long line, I bail if I don’t absolutely have to stay. Sitting still is not my nature. But not always. Some things are worth sitting still for—taking time out. Holy week almost passed me by. Just about got away from me but today I really took a deep breath. And I took a u-turn. This is what helped me reflect in a very meaningful way. 

It’s a new devotional/prayer app called Lectio 365. A good friend, a fellow prayer warrior, sent me a sample and I’ve been hooked ever since. It uses the P.R.A.Y. format: Pause, Reflect, Ask, Yield. It is skillfully written and beautifully narrated. Holy Saturday’s devotion, is copied at the end of this post. Do yourself a favor and download the app. I highly recommend it. Even on days when I have to bolt out of bed and get moving, it facilitates and encourages me to be still before the Lord prior to running my daily race. 

It’s Easter. He is risen! Time to celebrate! But if this day snuck up on you too quickly, make a u-turn—a half-twirl—and go back through Holy Week over the next week. As another friend so wisely said, “It’s never too late to do what’s right.”   

A favorite song that helps me understand Good Friday.

Powerful song followed by powerful words; listen to the entire arrangement.

Thanks to Ann Voskamp for the following content 

Poster for Easter

And in honor of a Holy Week U-Turn, I’m getting out one of my “Scripture Pictures” and putting it on display in my front hallway!


The text below is taken from the Lectio 365 app for Holy Saturday’s Devotional:


Today is Saturday the 3rd of April, Holy Saturday, the day that the Hope of the Nations lay dead in the grave.


As I enter prayer now, I pause to be still; to breathe slowly; to re-centre my scattered senses upon the presence of God.

Pause and pray

Prayer of Approach

Jesus, help me to rest with You in the dark cave of my unknowing. I relinquish my desire for easy answers and my insistence upon immediate results, asking only for the grace to wait a little longer and to trust a little more.

Rejoice and Reflect

Holy Saturday is pre-eminently a day of waiting. And so I take the ancient testimony of all God’s people expressed in the words of Psalm 40 and make it my own..

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
    and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
    out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
    and steadied me as I walked along.
Psalm 40:1-2

Pause and pray

‘The Bible tells us almost nothing about this mysterious day sandwiched between crucifixion and resurrection when God allowed the whole of creation to live without answers. And yet, although we know so little about it, Holy Saturday seems to me to describe the place in which many of us live our lives: waiting for God to speak. We know that Jesus died for us yesterday. We trust that there may be miracles tomorrow. But what of today – this eternal Sabbath when heaven is silent? Where, we wonder, is God now?’*

Since the Bible tells us so little about Holy Saturday, today’s reading comes from the moment it ends, at dawn on Easter Sunday as Mary articulates our own sense of disorientation and loss, saying ‘They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him’ (John 20:13):

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb… At this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realise that it was Jesus.

He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’

Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’

She turned towards him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘Teacher’).
John 20:11, 14-16

Isn’t it beautiful that ‘the first words of the new covenant are a question. Not an announcement, not an answer, but a quietly considerate question addressed to a weeping woman: “Why,” Jesus wants to know, “are you weeping?” And for anyone like Mary, anyone like… me, who has journeyed through the darkness of Maundy Thursday and the despair of Good Friday to reach this garden tomb, it’s a stupid question. But it’s also a profound question and, with hindsight, even a funny one too. Jesus, the God you may confuse with a gardener, simply speaks Mary’s name. Easter dawns with a question and a name.’**


‘As Jesus approaches, what question do I hear Him asking me? And what expression do I see on His face as He speaks my name? 

Thank You, Lord, that You know my name, see my tears, and care about my story. Please open my eyes to see You today in the people I meet. And teach me to ask the kind of questions that
unlock their hearts.’***

Pause and pray

Mary is staring into Jesus’ empty tomb. The body is gone; she fears she will never have closure for her grief. But then she turns around… 

This last year has brought much sorrow to so many. I think of someone I know who seems right now to be staring into empty darkness. Lord Jesus, may they turn around and see You, even if at first, like Mary, they don’t recognise who you really are.

Pause and pray


Rather than returning to the Bible passage as usual, I turn instead on this unusual day to prayerfully explore a sonnet for Holy Saturday written by the poet and priest Malcolm Guite****:

His spirit and his life he breathes in all
Now on this cross his body breathes no more
Here at the centre everything is still
Spent, and emptied, opened to the core.
A quiet taking down, a prising loose
A cross-beam lowered like a weighing scale
Unmaking of each thing that had its use
A long withdrawing of each bloodied nail,
This is ground zero, emptiness and space
With nothing left to say or think or do
But look unflinching on the sacred face
That cannot move or change or look at you.
Yet in that prising loose and letting be
He has unfastened you and set you free.

Today ‘is ground zero’ as the poet says ‘With nothing left to say or think or do.’  That must have been how Mary felt as she dutifully turned up to tend the corpse of Jesus. It’s sometimes how I have felt too. Mary’s worship didn’t make sense. Her hope had died. And yet it was because she was there, going through the motions, waiting and weeping, that she saw the risen Lord. 

Pause and pray

Yielding Prayer

Like Mary at dawn, I’m here to worship.
Rabboni, teach me to wait.
Like Mary at the tomb, my hope has died
Rabboni, teach me to wait.
Like Mary in the garden, You’re hidden from my eyes
Rabboni, teach me to wait.

Yielding Promise

And now, as I prepare to take this time of prayer into the coming day, the Lord who loves me says in Psalm 27, 

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord. 
Psalm 27:13-14

Closing Prayer

Father, help me to live this day to the full,
 being true to You, in every way.
Jesus, help me to give myself away to others,
 being kind to everyone I meet.
Spirit, help me to love the lost,
 proclaiming Christ in all I do and say.

*Pete Greig, God on Mute, p207
**Pete Greig, God on Mute, p373-4
***Pete Greig, God on Mute, p374
**** Malcolm Guite, ‘Holy Saturday: Station XIII Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross’  



Submit your comment here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Holy Week, priorities