Easter Vigil 2021

Picture of Christ on the cross saying, "It Is Finished!"
It Is Finished!

Yep, today is Good Friday. It is, for human beings, the best thing that could have ever happened, but for Jesus, the Christ… It was sheer torture. One of my favorite Gerhart hymns, “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth,” verse 3, gets to the point quite well.

“… / O wondrous Love, what have You done! / The Father offers up His Son, / Desiring our salvation. / O Love, how strong You are to save! / You lay the One into the grave / Who built the earth’s foundation.”

Good Friday isn’t the end of the story, either. Pretty much everyone knows that Easter Sunday is coming up pretty quickly. Yes, Easter without Good Friday is pretty meaningless. It is more than a pastoral footnote about seeds growing, caterpillars turning to butterflies, and other “springy” images, though. It is about the cost of forgiveness. Not the cost to us, it cost God more than we can begin to understand.

To help us begin to work our way toward at least appreciating what God has done and continues to do for us, earlier generations of Christians used the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter to hold Easter Vigil services. One of the best explanations of Easter and “light walk-throughs” actually came from my pastor and cantor on the “Coffee Hour” podcast at KFUO.  <– If you click that link, it will take you to the page. Scroll down a bit, and you will see the podcast called, “The Coffee Hour – Easter Vigil: From Darkness to Light.” It lasts a little bit under 30 minutes.

In case you don’t have a church nearby that has Easter Vigil services, my church is. It will start at 6:30 PM tomorrow. Zion, Tomball’s website has a link to the YouTube live-stream and bulletin download here. I’m not entirely certain what they are going to do for the opening bonfire and procession into the church, maybe Facebook live? We shall see.

 

Easter in Time of Corona Virus

body wrecked in grave clothes, lying in a tomb, with the words, "and on the seventh day, God rested."
And on the Seventh Day, God Rested-Easter Vigil 2020

Yeah, I know. Easter is tomorrow and we are celebrating it rather oddly. Most of us are staying home, live streaming services from what looks like an empty church. A few congregations have found creative ways to gather, like parking-lot services.

Of course, even the smallest of these gatherings is attended by “Angels and Archangels and All the Company of Heaven,” to laud and magnify Eternal God.

Easter services are tomorrow, but I had the privilege of virtually attending Easter Vigil, a somewhat different church service. For starters, it is something of a marathon service. More Scripture is read in this one setting that some people here in one year. Several people have done a better job of explaining it than I will, here are a few of the best:

  • This is a somewhat lighthearted and definitely nerdy explanation. Don’t worry, it is not irreverent. It is a blog post compares Vigil to an Entmoot. (Even if you haven’t read Tolkien’s works, it explains it well enough for the non-nerdy.)
  • Here is an hour-long podcast from Issues, Etc. featuring Will Weedon (NOT Wil Wheaton from Star Trek, next-generation!)
  • This is a lovely hymn, AWAKE MY HEART WITH GLADNESS sung by a sweet-voiced young woman. (Yes, you really need all the verses. It’s the difference between reading as savory trilogy and reading a bumper sticker.) 😉
  • Here is the bulletin from my church2020-04-11 Easter Vigil
  • … And here is the service itself…

Holy Week 2018, Zion Lutheran Church in Tomball, TX

church sign listing the services for holy week
Photo by Melissa Sindlinger

Hello there! What are your upcoming plans for the week? Lent is ending, and we get to rejoice in what God has done and continues to do in the lives of His people.

Palm Sunday is March 25 this year. Prophecies are fulfilled. Celebrations ensue. The King comes into Jerusalem, humbly riding a donkey. Our church services are at 8 AM and 10:45 AM, with Bible study in Sunday school at 9:30 AM.

Maundy Thursday is March 29. Our church services are at noon and 6:30 PM.

Good Friday is March 30. Again, our church services are at noon and 6:30 PM.

Saturday Vigil services are at 6:30 PM.

Easter services are at 7 AM and 9:30 AM, with breakfast between the services.