This year we are participating in an Easter Vigil service with Grace Lutheran on Holy Saturday, April 19, at 7pm. Grace has not only invited all of us, but has even invited us to help participate with the readings. Easter Vigil is an absolutely beautiful service, my personal favorite in the Church year. So what is it that makes Easter Vigil so beautiful?
1. Light! If Good Friday's Tenebrae is about the extinguishing of light, you can think of Easter Vigil as exactly the opposite. We start in near darkness. In fact, we begin outside around dusk with only a bonfire to give us light. (Keep this in mind when you dress before you come!) We then process into the dark sanctuary. As the service goes on, we add more and more light until finally we celebrate the Resurrection and see light streaming in from all angles.
2. Scripture: If you have a favorite Old Testament story, chances are we'll read it during Easter Vigil. Want to compare Noah with the real "Noah and the Ark" from Genesis? We've got it. Want to hear about Jonah being swallowed and spat out by a whale? Check. Want to hear about creation? Your vicar is reading that one! Or how about one of my favorite Old Testament stories--the crossing of the Red Sea? Come to Easter Vigil; in fact, Easter Vigil is the only time in any worship service that we ever read the crossing of the Red Sea. Then after all the Old Testament stories (not to mention all of Lent!), Pr. Laura will finally read for us the story of the Resurrection.
3. Ringing bells...during worship! One of my favorite things is once we transition to the Easter part of the service, as more and more lights comes in, we get a chance to make a lot of noise to celebrate the Resurrection. This includes the singing of "Alleluia"s as well as a chance to ring bells and noisemakers. For me, all the bells and "Alleluia"s really bring home the joy and celebration of Easter.
4. Baptisms: Easter Vigil is the traditional date in the ancient Church on which baptisms would take place. One of the exciting things that will happen at our service this year at Grace is that we will get to welcome two new members into our Christian family through their baptisms. What an exciting chance for us to be a part of what God is doing in these young people's lives!
5. All Your Favorite Easter Hymns: One of the things you will notice about Lent is that (while I certainly like the hymns!), the hymns are not always the most joyful; they reflect the penitential nature of the season of Lent. At Easter Vigil, you'll get an early chance to sing some of the more joyful hymns about Jesus's Resurrection. It's almost like when you get to take a bite from your chocolate Easter bunny a day early.
I know that this service will be new for a lot of you (I never got to experience one until two years ago), but I really hope you'll join us and our brothers and sisters at Grace as we give it a try. It's truly an emotionally uplifting event and a great way to celebrate the risen Christ!