Music: Wir setzen uns from the Matthew Passion
The reading is from the Gospel of Mark.
42 When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. 45 When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.
Descent into death, descent from the cross, descent into the tomb, descent into Hell.
All of these images compete for our attention as we contemplate this scene. Tradition understands that the ‘harrowing of hell’ takes place during this time. The chaos of the crucifixion is over. In its aftermath, there is the awkwardness of bringing down Jesus’s body from the cross. There is also the pressure to get him into the tomb before the Holy Day begins. Nevertheless, there is a gentleness about the holding and touching, and winding into the funeral cloth. There is a making of him safe from any more disrespect.
Can I feel myself straining forwards to help, to hold a foot or an arm? Can I bear the weight of Jesus’s body? Do I see, with Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, where he is laid? Will I wait now to see what will happen?