Greetings in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ! We are quickly approaching the end of our Lenten journey towards the cross. Before we know it we will be heralding the Messiah’s entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and enter into the somberness of Holy Week; the Maundy Thursday Liturgy and Foot-washing and the Good Friday Liturgy. Of course, this all leads to our grand celebration on Easter morn and getting to use the “A-word” again. But, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, yet.
We still have a few weeks left of disciplines that have no doubt been omitted a few times since Ash Wednesday, but that we are trying so hard to keep. More than that, we still have time to focus on our repentance and relationship with God; seeking to become closer, to live more deeply, with God. There is still time to reconcile relationships, to open our hearts, to prepare the way for the Messiah’s resurrection and our own.
As I wrote in last month’s Messenger, “The paschal mystery of the dying and rising again of Jesus Christ and our participation in the rhythm is paramount in the life of people who believe in the Gospel and follow the way of the Risen Lord.” Included in this is the participation in the liturgies of Holy Week and the Resurrection on Easter Day.
This year we will begin what I hope will be a new tradition. In ages past the tradition of an Easter Vigil service was the norm. It was a late evening service, beginning about 8 p.m. and ending in the wee hours of Easter morning with the first celebration of the Holy Eucharist just after midnight or even as late (early) as the dawn of the day. Its purpose is to join together the journey of God’s creation and our being chosen to be God’s people with the act of Salvation of the crucified Christ and His Resurrection.
We are buried with Christ by Baptism into his death and raised with Him to new life. (BCP 292)
While we will not take part in the late hours of the night, we will begin our Easter celebration of the Resurrection early(ish) in the morning.
Our first service will begin at 7 a.m. with elements from the traditional Great Vigil: The Service of Light, a shortened form of the Vigil lessons, the Renewal of Baptismal Vows, and the first Eucharist of Easter Day (this is where we get to say the “A-word” again).
Following this service we will have a brunch with pancakes and chicken and waffles. Our hope is that you will stay late or come early to join together in community between services. Of course, we will have a traditional Easter Celebration beginning at 10:30 a.m. with an Easter Egg hunt for kids of all ages following the service.
It is my hope that you will continue your journey through these forty plus days and not give in just yet. Hold on just a few more weeks. It is important that we finish the work we have begun in reconciling with our God (and all of humanity). After Christ has breathed His last on the cross and been buried in the tomb, then come back and be witness to His resurrection and be made new yourself.