Advanced search Click here for the website of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

Skip Content

4 April 2015

Read today’s Gospel Reading: John 19.38 - end.

Amidst the light-heartedness of the Easter weekend we may need to work quite hard to empathise with the total gloom and fear affecting Jesus' friends that second day, the day after his being taken down from the cross.

They had no expectation of Jesus' continuing with them, let alone of a resurrection. It is a day of death, of unrelieved darkness. A young friend who has lived through multiple bereavement, homelessness, and constant danger says: 'you can put up with any amount of suffering, if you have hope'. 

But Holy Saturday is holy precisely because we find ourselves, under God, and with the corpse of our master, in a place of 'no hope'. Jesus has been abandoned. All that is good and true now leads nowhere but the dust of death. Here we join all those who have suffered with no let-up and no future. Here is utter darkness. Could God be here at all?

At a summer church holiday club children were asked to paint pictures of Jesus on the boat in a storm. Two rather naughty boys refused to paint anything more than a dark, dark mess - presumably with the storm in mind. The painting was posted up at church alongside the others. That week in church there was a particularly tragic funeral of a young man – and the congregation found these paintings helpful, as they helped to express their loss. Most of all it was the darkest one, which spoke to them of the presence of God, even  in a time of utter abandonment.

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey of hope, love and trust through Lent and Holy Week. I hope it has helped you walk with Jesus. Tomorrow everything changes. Christ, risen from the dead meets us and calls us by name and then says ‘Peace be with you’ Utter Joy!  New life, new hope – New Creation. Hallelujah! We are an Easter People and Hallelujah is our song!


Today’s Gospel Reading: John 19.38 - end.

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.