Easter Vigil

One can never be sure just what you will encounter for worship as you visit around the Anglican Church of Or. The Easter Vigil for me is (& should be?) the peak of the Church Year, its crown. “The high point of Holy Week celebrations is known as the Great Vigil of Easter, for it proclaims and celebrates the whole of salvation history and Christ‟s saving work.” It is the climax and completion of the Triduum services: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil.

For me it is always one of those leave-your-watch-at-home/ignore-the-clock/forget-about-time type of service. It is a vigil. Long, majestic, glorious.

We were not at home for Easter, so looked for an Easter Vigil. We found one advertised – Easter Vigil with confirmation. Well, we thought, I guess that will make it extra long, and we will need to get there especially early to get a place, but… what does that really matter – it’s the Easter Vigil. So this is what we headed for, and we brought some others with us.

We were surprised, when we arrived, 15-20 minutes before starting, that there were only about 5% of the seats taken. It filled up to about 7%.

The Easter Vigil has four components:

1. The Service of Light.
2. The Ministry of the Word.
3. Baptism or the Renewal of Baptism.
4. The Ministry of the Sacrament.

This is true for the Roman Catholic Church, for The Episcopal Church, for the Church of England,…

At the service we attended there were two Old Testament readings, the Paschal candle was lit, The Exultet was sung, there was a reading from Romans, there was no reading from the gospel, no sermon, no prayers of the people, no communion, no Easter acclamation (Alleluia. Christ is risen…); confirmation. And we were out within the hour.

I had never heard of and certainly had not experienced an Easter Vigil without communion! Yes, the Exultet mentioned Christ’s resurrection – but without a Gospel account, without the Easter acclamation (no one even greeted us with that, as I am used to, as we left), and being dismissed with the words that we would “celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus tomorrow”, I think I can be forgiven in wondering – what had I just celebrated?

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