Monday, April 13, 2009

Great Vigil of Easter

We did it! We held our first Easter Vigil! It took an immense amount of energy and preparation--and we didn't have adequate amounts of either--but it all came together and it was completely worth all the effort. Where we were weak, He was strong. And we were delighted to have quite a few visitors who joined us!

The service began with the congregation in darkness. After three sets of three knocks on the door, the priest (aka Father Rooster), holding a candle, entered with the deacon and thurifer (or incense-swinger). He stopped and chanted, "the Light of Christ," at the three points where, at the Good Friday service the night before, he had proclaimed, "the cross of Christ, which takes away the sin of the world."

As the priest sang the Exultet (a long prayer of rejoicing in this marvelous Light), the deacon lit his own candle and began lighting the candles of the congregation.

Chicklet6, whose leg is all better!

Then the Old Testament readings began, recounting God's saving acts through the history of the Israelites. These readings often have dramatic or artistic accompaniment.

I read the story of God parting the waters of the Red Sea with percussion accompaniment (including the mighty wind from the east, the marching Egyptian army and the sound of chariot wheels falling off!). The Story of Creation and the Valley of the Dry Bones were also brought to life by a wonderful percussionist and his student.

One reading was accompanied by a violin...

The signer is our dear sister Barbara (see prayer requests in my sidebar).
The reader is Grandma Rooster, with Uncle Rooster
in the background with the other musicians.

...and another by American Sign Language.

One reading from Isaiah refers to the presence of the Lord as a canopy: "It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat, and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain." Here Grandfather Rooster reads the passage, surrounded by his teenage grandchildren and one other teenager (LOC's whole youth group!) under a Jewish chuppah.

We had no baptisms, but everyone renewed their baptismal vows. Father Rooster and Deacon Joel shook branches wet with holy water over the congregation while Uncle Rooster sang "Sweet Rain."

He also sang another Rez favorite, "He's Alive!" and then came the words we'd been waiting for all night: "The Lord is risen!" And the congregation responded, "He is risen indeed! ALLELUIA!"

It's amazing how exciting it can be to shout one word, after you have carefully avoided saying it for 40 days! Everyone began to ring bells, the drums started up, and all the noise cheered us on as we set the table that had been bare just moments before...

...and heaped flowers in front of it--quickly, quickly!--so the "Holy Noise" could wrap up with a percussion solo!

The black shrouds were also removed from the crosses. (Bantam10, center, was so excited to be crucifer for this service!)

The first Eucharist of the Easter season! It was a great celebration...

...which called for a little movement, the body's natural celebratory response. Some call it dancing...

...and some call it running! till they are slowed by adults joining in.

Thanks so much to our friend Tammy Prather, Deacon Joel's wife, for taking the pictures! (She took the ones at the Stations of the Cross service, too.)

Let me share one little story. It seems that our percussionist, not a regular attender but a good friend of one (the violinist), was considering his accompaniment for the Dry Bones reading. He thought of a percussive instrument that he wished he owned, a shaker with dry seed pods--it would make a rattling sound that would be perfect, he thought. Soon after, the student he was thinking of asking to help out on this project told him excitedly about a new shaker he had just acquired. In fact, he had a picture of it on his cell phone--and it was the very one his teacher didn't think he could get in time for the Vigil! ("Guess what you're doing on Saturday night!" he told the boy.)

Just a small thing, but a God-thing...which really made the Dry Bones come "alive" at our Vigil!

Easter Sunday was another beautiful celebration, with more visitors, including a family group that came because they saw our ad in the paper! And so, seeds were dispersed. Every home that received one of our flyers, every person who saw one of our ads, everyone who came to one of our services and who may tell someone else about's all opportunity for God to act in someone's life, as He acted in ours through our worship this Holy Week.

We praise Him!


Anonymous said...

Swweeetttt!!! Im so glad you pulled it off :-) :-) It looks like everything was wonderful.

Although....I'm not sure you can call a church that does its own Vigil a "church plant" anymore!! That's not a baby-church thing to do :-)

Jen in Seattle

Islandsparrow said...

It looks and sounds as if your celebration was full of joy - I especially love the altar in white and all the beautiful flowers and the children dancing!

Heather said...

What a wonderful way to reinforce the meaning of Easter!

Rosa said...

What a beautiful service, Jeanne!

I also celebrated Easter at a vigil service, as my aunt received her baptism, confirmation and first communion.

Blessed Easter to you and yours!


Jessica said...

Those are great pictures. Congrats on your first vigil, and thanks for sharing it with us! You all look right at home there in your new home!

mama said...

That looks beautiful, Jeanne! It fills my heart with joy to see another congregation so on fire at Vigil. Tammy took great pics :)

Peace -


Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

Oh, it looks like such a wonderful service!! My daughter was looking at the photos with me and asking, "Is that a church? Is that a wedding?" When I told her it was the Easter Vigil she nodded and said, "Maybe next time we go to church, we should go there."

I wish we could. :)

Jenny in Ca said...

lovely service, I really enjoyed all the photos, just beautiful. The readings sound so 'capturing'..I guess the best word I can come up with. I've never experienced a service like this, now I am hoping to someday.

Activities Coordinator said...

Beautiful, beautiful!