10 am Morning Prayer & Ante-Communion
We do not receive Holy Communion during the day. This is the real Sabbath, or “Day of Rest,” as Jesus lies in the tomb. This is our annual corporate service for the Altar Guild, but all parishioners are encouraged to attend. Following the service, we gather as a parish to clean, wash, scrub and polish, to make ready for our Easter celebration.
Come and lend a hand! Children can help too!
10:30 pm The Easter Vigil & First Mass of Easter
The Easter Vigil is a very ancient and moving celebration of the Christian Church. At the beginning of the service, a homily will help us to focus our thought and prayers. The lights are then extinguished, and the Vigil continues. We begin in darkness and move into light, just as the long night of sin and death is brought to an end by the Resurrection – the rising of the True Sun, Jesus Christ. The service begins with the lighting and blessing of the ‘New Fire’: “Sanctify this new fire, and inflame us with a new hope; in this paschal feast may we so burn with heavenly desires, that we may attain to the feast of eternal light.” The priest then takes the great Paschal Candle, traces the cross in its wax, adorns it with Alpha and Omega, adds the current year, and five grains of incense for the five wounds suffered by Our Lord. The Paschal Candle is lit from the New Fire and becomes the focal point of our praise – an eloquent symbol of the risen Saviour. In procession, the Deacon carries the great candle up the aisle through the darkened church. Our hand candles are lit. The light spreads. At the front of the church, the Exsultet, an ancient and beautiful chant, is sung. Its theme is the overcoming of the darkness of this world by the light of Christ. It summons all creation to rejoice.
Next, four readings from the Old Testament help us to recall God’s mighty acts in ancient times and these prophecies foster our own sense of hope and anticipation of the coming Messiah. We listen to the Creation story, and the story of the People of Israel escaping from Egypt through the Red Sea on their way to the Promised Land. Following the Old Testament readings, we renew our Baptismal vows, thinking of St. Paul’s words describing Baptism as “a burial with Christ and a rising with him to new life.” (Sometimes a Baptism takes place at this point.)
Finally, the church and the Altar are dressed gloriously for this Queen of Seasons, and the First Eucharist of Easter is celebrated in the early hours of the morning with great joy.