Steve Hutchison (foomf) wrote,
Steve Hutchison


For Easter Vigil service, we meet outside the church just before sunset. The Rector blesses and starts a new fire, then blesses the new Paschal Candle, then cuts the INRI into the candle with a knife, then inserts five grains of incense made with frankincense and myrrh (in the form of five "nails") into the four points and the center of the cross on the Paschal Candle, in memory of the crucifixion. We enter the darkened sanctuary, carrying unlit candles, and the paschal candle moves down the center aisle, with the cantor declaiming,


and we sing the response,

"Praise be to God!"

The torchiers move along the outside aisles, and light the candle of the person on the aisle, who then offers it for the next person in to light theirs, and so forth. The torchiers' candles were lit from the Paschal candle, as well. All the candles are generally lit starting from the Pachal candle. The church is lit only by candles during this time.

The service continues with the "Passover Readings", then goes on to the Baptism, or since we didn't have any baptismal candidates this time, to the Confirmation of Baptism, where we reconfirm the vows of our baptism and afterwards, the priests use whisk brooms to (lightly) splash holy from the font over the Congregation, admonishing us "Remember your baptism!"

And the lights come on. We sing a hymn, one with an Alleluia, because now the Alleluia is back, the one we put aside for Lent, and we ring a bell every time we sing it. We get lots of little bells.

The Sermon follows - this year, Father Dorsch did NOT give St. John Chrysostom's Easter Sermon even though that was the title of the sermon, but it was really pretty profound, explaining something interesting in the phrasing of the Gospel and the Reading. When they say "Christ Died" they use the past tense, completed, fixed, finished, done. When they say "Christ was Resurrected from the dead" they use a continuing tense - this is something that happened and is happening and continues. Christ died for us, and we, baptised into Christ, are baptised into that death, so that we are also baptised into that resurrection. The self, the sum of what we are, all our moods, poses, quirks, memories, actions, died in baptism and is dead. What is raised, what is becoming new, what is eternal, is Christ living in us, and all that He loves in us. All our moods, poses, quirks, memories, actions, made new in HIS resurrection.
It has become our work and our struggle thenceforth to become that new person, raised from that tomb.

And when we've digested that for a minute, the blessing of the Peace of God is made, and we share it among ourselves, with lots of touching and joy. The Peace of God which passeth all understanding be with you, and the blessing of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit be with you and remain with you always.

And then we make an offering for Easter - they use the money for something specific but I forget what.
And then we have the Communion - the very simple, very light meal of a mouthful of bread and a tiny sip of wine, but that bread and wine are blessed. Because every time we get together for this meal we are doing that same Passover, the special one that our Lord told us to keep, that the bread is His body, the wine His blood, that when we eat and drink them we are changed, a very literal "You are who you eat" that reminds us, along with the baptism, along with the prayers, that we aren't JUST going to Church so we can sing and feel uplifted, that we aren't JUST going to Church because we're Good People and this is What We're Supposed to Do, or for the social hour, or the potluck, or the orgiastic post-Easter-Vigil CHOCOLATE FEAST. We're there to be empowered and to become the hands, the body, the tired feet and aching back and broken heart and open hands of Jesus making this world over by living a life that isn't made out of personal power, money, avarice, getting our piece of the proverbial pie. We're building the Kingdom of God, one brick at a time, by being servants to others.

Then, we sing the hymns. And somewhere in there, Processional or otherwise, we generally sing this one.

In case you can't tell what was going on there, that was an ordination service back in 2007, hence the odd applause in the middle. The reason I chose this one is that (1) it's the same setting we used tonight, and (2) you can hear them ringing bells at the Alleluia.

And just for grins, an alternate, more traditional setting for the same hymn:

It's beautiful but I don't find it as overwhelming and stirring.

Then again, in 2006, we used this one, as did the Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral (episcopal) of Kansas City, and here's their tape. We generally don't record our services.

We don't go there just for emotional boosts... but sometimes, they do help.

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