This day is full of quiet preparation for tomorrow’s celebration. At church, all morning, flowers have been coming in. This afternoon, the Paschal candle is prepared, the church now clean, and shining and beautiful. The organ is tuned, and the music for the choir and musicians laid out carefully. The bells for the bell choir and their white gloves are placed precisely in order in the front pew. When you walk in, the whole building feels like it’s waiting, and there’s life there, stirring. I think of all the great cloud of witnesses in our own little church; it’s a mighty company after all, the people who have come here, worshipped and prayed here, baptized and buried here, confirmed and married here, in the holy celebrations of our spiritual life. Today, we’re all alive in Christ, and we’re all waiting, once more for the marvelous moment when the gates of death burst open forever.
In our garden, I know under the surface, the lilies of the valley are beginning to send shoots up, the irises are greening, and the apple tree’s buds begin to open. Though all of these signs of new life emerging remind me of the resurrection, Easter is something entirely different: the resurrection is not a natural event, it’s not a rite of spring: something new and utterly wonderful has happened. The kingdom of heaven breaks in. And what was dead is raised.
Tonight, many churches around the country are lighting the new fire, and carrying the Paschal candle in procession, chanting: the “light of Christ.” The long wait is almost over, and the stone, soon will be rolled away. We wait in darkenss, in quiet, in solitude.
The lessons for today are the ones used for the Easter Vigil: if you are not going to a Vigil, you might consider reading through them-they will carry you through salvation history from the very first declaration of God for us “let there be light,” all the way to the Easter dawn, and God’s word of life for us in the Risen Christ.
Resurrection of Our Lord
Vigil of Easter
April 3, 2010
First Reading: Genesis 1:1–2:4a
Response: Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26 (1)
Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18, 8:6-18, 9:8-13
Response: Psalm 46 (7)
Testing of Abraham
Third Reading: Genesis 22:1-18
Response: Psalm 16 (11)
Deliverance at the Red Sea
Fourth Reading: Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21
Response: Exodus 15:1b-13, 17-18 (1)
Salvation Freely Offered to All
Fifth Reading: Isaiah 55:1-11
Response: Isaiah 12:2-6 (3)
The Wisdom of God
Sixth Reading: Proverbs 8:1-8, 19-21; 9:4b-6 or Baruch 3:9-15, 32–4:4
Response: Psalm 19 (8)
A New Heart and a New Spirit
Seventh Reading: Ezekiel 36:24-28
Response: Psalms 42 and 43 (42:2)
Valley of the Dry Bones
Eighth Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Response: Psalm 143 (11)
The Gathering of God’s People
Ninth Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-20
Response: Psalm 98 (4)
The Deliverance of Jonah
Tenth Reading: Jonah 1:1–2:1
Response: Jonah 2:2-3 [4-6] 7-9 (9)
Clothed in the Garments of Salvation
Eleventh Reading: Isaiah 61:1-4, 9-11
Response: Deuteronomy 32:1-4, 7, 36a, 43a (3-4)
Deliverance from the Fiery Furnace
Twelfth Reading: Daniel 3:1-29
Response: Song of the Three 35-65 (35)
New Testament Reading
Prayer of the Day
Eternal giver of life and light, this holy night shines with the radiance of the risen Christ. Renew your church with the Spirit given us in baptism, that we may worship you in sincerity and truth and may shine as a light in the world, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
O God, you are the creator of the world, the liberator of your people, and the wisdom of the earth. By the resurrection of your Son free us from our fears, restore us in your image, and ignite us with your light, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Alleluia. Let us sing to the LORD, who has triumphed gloriously; our strength and our might, who has become our salvation. Alleluia. (Exod. 15:1-2)
A blessed and Happy Easter to you.