- Officiant: Fr. Dave (me)
- Preacher: Fr. Dave
- Music: Joe providing vocals and guitar
- Scripture: Micah, Anna, Sarah, Jason, Joe (Vigil lessons), Cesiah (Epistle/Psalm), Fr. Dave (Gospel)
Song of Praise
- Christ the Lord is Risen Today
- Jesus Messiah
- Because He Lives (Amen)
Collect for the Day
O God, you made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection: Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
This was, as far as I’m aware, the first celebration of the Great Vigil of Easter at Church of the Savior. We started a bit late (owing to explanation and welcome and getting everyone in the door) and were worshipping in another room in the church generally reserved for smaller gatherings. Following the welcome, I led the congregation outside to the parking lot, where we started the “new fire” of Easter for the Service of Light. After praying the blessing, we lit a paschal candle, and (after some unsuccessful attempts owing to the wind), began to light vigil candles for our procession back into the building.
Once assembled, with the paschal candle in place, I said (note: not sang) the Exsultet, and we began the Service of Lessons. Five readers (including a young child and a teenager) read the six lessons (Creation, Fall, Abraham Sacrifice of Isaac, Israel’s Deliverance at the Red Sea, Salvation offered freely to all, and the Valley of dry bones) and we prayed the psalms (and canticle) in response to them by the light of the candles. The room was otherwise dark. The sense of anticipation and meditation on our history as God’s people was building throughout. Traditionally, there are 9 Vigil lessons read, but given the experimental nature of our service, I decided to restrict it to those 6 (The ACNA liturgy actually allows as many as 12).
At the conclusion of the Vigil lessons, I led the group in the renewal of our baptismal vows. The renunciation of the world, the flesh and the devil and submission to Jesus in the fellowship of His Church is a powerful, punctuating ritual in the conclusion of Lent. Following the renewal of vows, we shouted the Easter Acclamation (and it sounded much larger than our gathering of 12!), and the lights came on as we welcomed the Easter Day with the classic hymn, Christ the Lord is Risen Today. We proceeded to the collect, and Cesiah read the Epistle (Romans 6:3-11) and led us in praying Psalm 114. Hearing the first reading of Easter by a woman was an important aspect that I wanted us to experience as a community. Given more time to plan, I would have arranged for the message to spoken by a woman as well. After sharing the Gospel reading (in the way our Archdeacon, the Ven. Mark Stevenson taught by example–from memorized delivery of the story), I shared a message of the way that Jesus’ resurrection turns everything upside down, and ends the tyranny of sin and death and oppression. Mary Magdalene is sent to bring news of new life and being with God to the men, reversing Eve’s sharing of the fruit in Genesis 3. I called on the men to hear and receive the words God gives our sisters in Christ, and to take the message of Jesus’ resurrection into the world: because for us in the Kingdom of God, the “Upside Down” world we live in is on notice, and we can bring words of life and newness to set things to rights. It seemed that the message was empowering/healing for those present and I pray it produces more good fruit.
We concluded with Holy Communion (Ancient Rite), singing “Jesus, Messiah” during the distribution of Communion. The service closed with the fourfold Blessing of Easter and singing “Because He Lives (Amen).” The resurrection joy was real, and we were dismissed in the joy of our salvation.