The deacon’s voice was full of the mystery of the night as it pierced the darkness. The liturgy’s tune sounds minor and exotic, and the words remind listeners that God moves powerfully even when the world is still and only candles flicker.
“This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red Sea on dry land.
…This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell and rose victorious from the grave.
…How holy is this night. …How blessed is this night."
Yes, it is the Passover of the Lord. God sent his son to break the bonds of death.
She loved the Easter Vigil for its dramatic use of scripture to recount God’s work with man through centuries. It was good to take time to think on God’s power, faithfulness and love.
The lessons read explained it all. From creation, through the flood, through Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son and God providing a ram instead – the earliest signs of God’s love for the people he created and called. Then the Israelites are delivered through the Red Sea, then salvation offered to all through the prophesy of Isaiah, then the valley of dry bones – a great rattling! Each scripture read revealed a different and wondrous way God spoke to, saved and loved his people, no matter how badly they treated him.
She eagerly participated in what came next: the renewal of Baptismal vows. After hearing the scriptures, it was wonderful to claim God as her savior and to pledge to continue learning, to “persevere in resisting evil,” and “to proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.” Yes!
As the final prayer for the vows was read, her fingers gently found their way to small boxes in her purse. Carefully she retrieved the boxes and tried to keep the bells inside still as she handed one to her husband and kept one for herself. There were a couple of tinkles, from her bells and from others around the congregation. They were all getting ready… excited to let those clappers fly.
Finally the priest proclaimed: Alleluia! Christ is risen!”
And the people’s joyous response: “The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!”
And the bells started ringing, and the organ burst into song, and lights brightened to reveal an altar full of flowers, and everyone was smiling and some were laughing at the joy of it all.
Following the Eucharist and more wonderful Easter hymns, the congregation poured into the night. There would be a bigger crowd in the morning for the traditional service, and it would be beautiful. But for now, she believed all who attended were glad they had been there to contemplate the mystery and be among the first to say, “Alleluia! He is risen!”
One might think that those attending would reason, “Well, that was Easter. I don’t have to go in the morning.” But she did not.
She arose early and stepped into the sunshine of the new day. “Was it a morning like this?” she sang from a Christian tune. The sun warmly beamed through Easter egg color clouds that lined the eastern sky. The tulips stood silent and the greening grass glistened with dew.
Jesus rose from the tomb in the night… and now come the women in the morning. She hoped that the first Easter was a warm spring morning, because the rising sun and new birth and Easter just seem to go together perfectly. She hoped that a glorious morning helped Mary’s grief-stricken heart accept the miracle and rejoice in who she saw.
From the darkness of night to the light of day – the miracle of Easter’s mysterious night bursts into each morning.
She looked into the sunrise. “Good morning to you, Jesus. Alleluia!”
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