It’s close! Even though we are in the middle of Lent Easter, the greatest victory celebration in the Christian Church, is very close! As we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I would like to take a moment and explain the worship service on Saturday night before Easter Sunday.
This service is called the Easter Vigil. By its very name you begin to understand the purpose of worshiping the night before the Resurrection of Jesus. Vigil is a very intentional word. It recalls things like keeping watch, sacrificing the usual routine and spending intentional time in prayer or fasting or in the case of Easter waiting for the celebration of Easter and the eternal answer to sin and death. Vigil is at the heart of the Christmas Eve Candlelight service. The night before our promised Savior was born into our world the church waits vigilantly, hearing God’s promises of a Savior, anticipating the coming of God in the flesh. Vigil is at the heart of the evening Lenten services, as well. We gather in vigil, to recognize our sin and the great promise and price paid to take away our sin.
The Easter Vigil is much the same. We wait, we vigil, in the darkness and wait for the light of Christ to burst the tomb. Traditionally the Easter vigil was very late in the night, or early in the morning so the last part of the service was at daybreak. Easter day had broken, Christ is Risen.
Tradition has given way to having the service on Sat. evening, much the same way midnight mass on Christmas eve is at 10:00 o’clock. The service starts outside the church. We gather around a fire and from that fire the Pascal, (Christ Candle) is lit. Jesus Christ the light of the Word is risen from the dead! This light, Christ our living again Lord has burst from the tomb. From the Christ Candle the light is passed to the people who are all holding candles in vigil. When all the candles are lit the Christ candle leads the faithful back into the dark church. The Light of Easter now illuminates the darkness of Good Friday.
As the Congregation gathers in the Sanctuary they are reminded of God’s promise to His people with readings that remind us of God’s faithfulness. We hear of Gods promises in Creation, God’s promises in the Flood, God’s promises to Abraham, God’s promises as they crossed the Red sea, and other readings as time permits. The Easter Vigil is not about emotion, it is about promise, God’s promise to us risen from the dead on the third day just as He and God promised.
The historic tradition of the church is to not baptize during Lent. Easter Vigil has been the time people are baptized and new member confess the faith they have.
Easter Vigil is just that, a vigil, an anticipation of the greatest good news man has ever received. Christ is Risen from the dead! Sin and death have been defeated. Our enemy is bound and we are free.
We gather for the Easter Vigil Saturday April 20th at 7:15. I hope you can join us as we anticipate the Celebration of our Salvation!