Easter Vigil (April 2014; Volume 3, Issue 4)
Last year, we held our first Easter Vigil at LCF. Since it is about to be that time of year again, I thought I would share a bit about the history and practice of the Easter Vigil for those who don’t know or who didn’t attend last year.
Evangelical Lutheran Worship includes the following introduction: “On the night before Easter Day, Christians around the world gather to celebrate Christ’s passage from death to life. The service includes strong signs: new fire in darkness, light spreading from the light of Christ, the water and Word of baptism, the first resurrection meal. And powerful words: the great saving stories of Hebrew scriptures and the first Easter gospel. We keep this wondrous night in the spirit of vigil, our lamps lit, awaiting Christ’s coming both now and at the end of time. Alleluia! Christ is risen! And Christ will come again.”
The service begins outside with the new fire and the lighting of the new year’s Paschal candle, after which we enter the darkened sanctuary. By candle light, we read a number of readings from the Old Testament, as if we are sitting around the campfire telling the stories and singing the songs of the Christian family. On the holiday that we celebrate the salvation of the world, we remember God’s promises over the centuries and the times before that God has shown love through saving acts of mercy. Then we hear the resurrection story and see that saving power played out in Baptism and Communion. Historically it is the service during which adult catechumens, people who had been preparing for baptism throughout the 40 days of Lent, were welcomed into the baptized community. Although we do not have any adult catechumens, we will be baptizing children.
The vigil is the first official celebration of Easter. There is no need to wait for sunlight, for even in the dark of night, Jesus’ resurrection light shines bright into the world. Just like we tend to attend worship on Christmas Eve as the primary celebration of Christmas, we can do the same at Easter with the Easter Vigil. Come celebrate the resurrection with dark and light, song and prayer, water and meal. Following the service this year there will be a celebratory reception to conclude the evening and extend the celebration of Easter. All are welcome!