After the previous four months of writing about the Easter Vigil, it just seems wrong not to write something now, just a couple weeks after we’ve been blessed to go through it together here at Good Shepherd for the first time. (I promise, next month’s article is assuredly not about the Easter Vigil! 😉). The difference, of course, is that over the past several months we’ve been preparing for the Vigil; now we can look back on it and thank God. What a wonderful time we had as we celebrated the Easter Vigil here at Good Shepherd!
As promised, we began with the Service of Light. From the fire burning outside the church doors, we lit the Paschal Candle. As the candle was carried into the church in the procession, every one in the church received the light of Christ. What a meaningful way to confess and enjoy the light of Christ in His resurrection. His light of salvation and life has overcome the darkness of our sin and death. The only things to do are to rejoice and enjoy the Light of Life Himself!
Then we prayed and heard God speak through the stories of His redemption. We heard the stories of Creation, Noah and the Flood, the Crossing of the Red Sea, and the Three Young Men in the Fiery Furnace. The Easter message brings us into the new creation of God’s forgiveness and life, and we are saved through water, just as Noah was saved through the Flood and the Israelites were saved through the Red Sea. Then we heard how Christ is with us even in the place of death to rescue us and bring us out unharmed and alive! What joyful stories and promises of salvation–joys that we still feast on in Christ and His Body and Blood.
Then we celebrated Holy Baptism, remembering for ourselves what gifts we have from our Lord by speaking again the promises of God in Holy Baptism. What a miracle that our Lord has added to His number through such simple means as water and His Word. And to witness 4 baptisms that evening, and to also welcome two adult members into the congregation! Thanks be to God for His gifts!
How special it was to hear in the darkness that wonderful cry: Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! And then to sing out with our full voices that This is the feast of victory for our God! Alleluia! The chancel was beautiful with all the flowers as the lights came up. The Altar was prepared for that very victory feast.
Finally, we celebrated the Lord’s Holy Supper of His life-giving Body and Blood. After the acclamation that “Christ is risen,” what else should we do but joyously celebrate and feast? We’ve been ushered out of darkness into the light of Christ, we’ve heard the stories of redemption, we’ve seen God at work adding to his Church, and now we celebrate the victory of Christ’s resurrection. That victory comes to us as we are joined together in the Eucharist at the Lord’s Table.
Please don’t think of this as “just another service.” In the Vigil we were treated to a wonderful feast of God’s life and salvation. Who minds the longer service when it’s so chock-full of the wonderful promises and gifts of our Lord? To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, the time did not bother us, because our attention was on God and what He was doing in our midst.
Thank you to all who participated in the joys of this Easter Vigil. We ushered in the great Easter Season, and the celebration continues until the day of Pentecost, which is on June 4th this year! (And don’t forget about the Feast of the Ascension, on Thursday, May 25th. There will be a dinner before the 7 p.m. Divine Service.)
Pastor Michael Schuermann