Holy Saturday – Not so empty

While Christ is busy harrowing Hell (or is resting in his tomb if your theology leans that way); while the disciples try to come to terms with death; while the chief priests congratulate themselves on trouble well handled; while Pilate wonders what on earth happened yesterday, and why his wife is so angry with him….clergy up and down the land are performing the Liturgy of Holy Saturday.

The Liturgy begins with members of the ministry team gathering at base. If Easter Candles have not been retrieved from all churches within the Benefice, now is time for appropriate penance. And an extra round trip of all the churches.

 Curate1: Sorry I’m late

All: We knew you would be.

The old Easter Candles are laid out, the buds removed and placed in holders, the transfers pealed off, and the debate begins.

Incumbent: Do we have new candles?

Administrator: We do, but the Treasurers have all already rung me to say that the Easter Candles do not need replacing. I can save them for next year.

All: Recycling these should be ok. Probably. 

The Incumbent places a transfer such that the holes are aligned with the cross, and smooths out the creases neatly.

Incumbent: Like this, do you see?

Curate1 and Curate2: Yes, we see. Under breath Please Lord, let this work.

Curate1 and Curate 2 attempt to place transfers correctly, smooth the creases out (mostly) and eye each other’s work.

Administrator: Oops I’ve dropped a bud.

All: Stand still everyone, no-one move

There is much cautious surveying of brown carpet tile until bud is found.

Incumbent: How many candles need buds putting in now?

Curate2: Three

Curate1: No, two because of tonight’s vigil at St Mark’s.

Incumbent: Do we do marking the Easter Candle at St Mark’s?

Administrator and Curate1: We did it last year.

Incumbent: So that’s two with buds and two without

All: That’s right

Administrator gives unused buds to those conducting Vigil Services: Don’t lose them

Curate1: Can I have some sellotape?

All: That’s a good idea

A strip of sellotape is laid over the buds in their holders to secure them. Coffee is drunk, and a discussion held about the numbers of congregational candles and holders in each church.

All: It’ll be fine

Incumbent picks up bag of mini eggs, and departs. Curate1 nips to the lavatory and departs. Incumbent returns, nips to lavatory and departs. Curate2 remembers Gold Chasuble to put in coldest dampest church ready for 0530 Easter Dawn Service, and departs. Administrator breathes sigh of relief.

Incumbent, Curate1 and Curate2 convene at coldest, dampest church, where the 0530 Easter Dawn Service is to be held. Curate1 and Curate2 change altar frontal. 

Curate2: It’s close enough

Curate1: No, it’s lopsided and the frontal has slipped so that some of the plain white part is showing.

Curate2: No-one will notice.

Curate1: I will notice, every Sunday until Pentecost and it’ll drive me up the wall.

Curate2 sighs, and attempts to cast out Curate1’s Demon Altar Linen OCD Tendencies.

Incumbent: This kind can only be driven out by much prayer and fasting.

Incumbent locates correct version of Order of Service, Curate1 offers to recycle two previous Orders of Service

All: Hmm, better not, they might come in useful

A run through of the service is held, all make copious notes of where they are meant to be at various points in the service.

Curate2: I have to go, I’ve got to take a Home Communion

Incumbent and Curate1: No problem, give our love to N and M.

A count of candles ensues, the “Fork Handles Pun” may be inserted here or at another suitable point, but it must be used at some point during this liturgy. A bucket is filled with water to be placed near the bonfire, in case anyone sets themselves alight

Curate1: I seem to remember nearly setting fire to myself the year before last

Incumbent: Self immolation is not a Church of England competency for a curate. It wouldn’t have helped your portfolio of evidence one bit.

Hymn books are laid out, altar candles replaced, the administrator is phoned to bring one more candle because Curate1 miscounted, Communion bread and wine is laid out, Mini Easter Eggs are placed in a basket by the door. All confirm that they are now so cold they cannot feel their fingers.

Curate1: Sorry

Administrator: You will be.

Administrator returns to base church, Incumbent and Curate1 proceed to St Marks. On arrival Curate1 nips to the lavatory and puts the kettle on. Curate1 greets Flower Ladies. Incumbent nips to lavatory.

Curate1: Hello, that looks wonderful

FlowerLady: it’s been the devil’s own job to get these buds into flower.

Curate1: I”m sure. Would you like a cup of coffee?

All: Ooh, yes please, it’s perishing out.

Incumbent: I’ve got to go and do a Home Communion

Curate1: No problem, give our love to N and M. Do we need to do anything at St Denys?

Incumbent: The frontal has been changed, but the candle drips need chipping off.

If “Fork Handles Pun” has not been used elsewhere, it must be inserted here.

Curate1 counts congregational candles, gives thanks for oil filled plastic altar candles, fills Baptism Jug, lays out hymn books, fishes out illicit copy of Lent Holy Week and Easter, (absolution may be requested from the Liturgical Commision at this point), puts up hymn numbers, lays lavabo towel by font, removes jug of catkins from font

Curate1: I’m so sorry but we need to use the font.

Flower Ladies: Then why weren’t we told?


Curate1 skulks out of St Marks, adjourns to St Denys, finds the heating has been left on by flower ladies while they have gone home for lunch. A prayer of thanksgiving may be inserted here. Curate1 removes candles from altar (there are only two, which is why “Fork Handles Pun” cannot be used here). Curate1 takes candles in their holders outside, chips off drips. Curate1 attempts to clean out holder, impales abandoned matchstick under thumbnail.

Curate1: Bugger!  Oops, it’s Lent. Sorry God.

Curate1 replaces candles on altar.

Curate1: It is finished.  Thanks be to God.


20 responses to “Holy Saturday – Not so empty

  1. Oh Claire I do love you 🙂 This IS the faith of the church….I particularly like the liturgy of the flower ladies at the font & the liturgical greeting (which is my constant companion, regardless of the season) “Sorry I’m late” “”We knew you would be”. Thank you for a Holy Saturday smile to treasure 🙂 xxx

    • Transfers – tight budget. None of your posh wax stuff here. And the only Home Communion that Curate1 has this weekend is straight after main service on Easter Day 🙂

  2. God save us from Anglicans, read it all the way through with a sense of depression, maybe it’s my lack of humour or remoteness from the situation, or maybe it is an ecclesiastic in joke.

  3. I’m grateful to all the clergy and others who work hard behind the scenes to enable us to walk seamlessly through the journey of the Lenten and Easter seasons and experience for ourselves the eternal truths new and fresh each year.

  4. And if you have – you help us accept our own failures! 🙂
    Yesterday evening our deacon nearly knocked out a visiting priest with the thurible… fortunately he ducked in time, we all laughed and he’s going to practise some more! It simply added to the joy and celebration and the sense of “we’re all in this together”

  5. I just dripped hot wax down my hand- had to supress an ouch and keep holding the paschal candle despite the pain!
    But thanks Claire for a smile as I recognised so mcuh of yeterday in your post 🙂

  6. Somewhere lurking in the grass outside St John the Baptist a bud has lurked for a few years. I daren’t say who dropped it for fear of incriminating myself but at 5.30 am it’s still dark and hard to find.

    • Curate1 dropped one outside St Mark’s last night, and Administrator related the story of St John’s! 😉
      Luckily, a faithful congregation lady found the St Mark’s one this morning, so Curate1’s conscience is ok, and there was a spare one to use last night!
      Curate1: Dear Lord, thank you thank you thank you.
      All: don’t do it again!

  7. Pingback: The Week After The Week Before | Rev'd Claire·

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