EASTER – SOURCE OF ALL HOPE
For thousands of years, the faithful have shared stories of hope – stories that tell about the abundant grace of God. Some of these stories are gathered together and read at the Great Vigil of Easter, the Queen of all liturgies. Among these stories are the first account of creation, the flood and the rescue of Noah and his family, Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones, the crossing of the Red Sea from slavery to freedom, Jonah’s avoidance of his assignment from God and his deliverance, and the deliverance of the three Hebrew boys from the fiery furnace.
Each of these stories proclaim the grace of God and our deliverance from sin, death, and the devil. However, the retelling of these stories is only a prelude to the most important story for our salvation: the story of the resurrection. So after the stories have been read, the congregation processes to the place where the baptismal font is located. They gather around the font and either celebrate baptism (should there be a candidate) or simply renew their own baptism. It is a somber, yet joy-filled, moment.
Having accomplished this, the congregation, carrying lighted candles, proceeds into the sanctuary – the place where the Holy Communion is celebrated. The church is completely dark. For the moment, it represents for us the darkness just before dawn.
We are waiting for the proclamation of the resurrection.
Suddenly, the lights go on, the church is gaily decorated, the organ is playing loudly, ringing bells can be heard. The congregation jumps to its feet to sing the first “Alleluia” of Easter. HE IS RISEN, ALLELUIA! HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA!
This is the drama and the exuberance of the Great Vigil of Easter. It is a wonderful way to conclude Lent and to begin Easter. PLUM gathers together for the Vigil and to affirm that PLUM continues as a beacon of hope to our member congregations. This year, the Easter Vigil will be held at Trinity Ev. Lutheran Church (Mt. Oliver)(601 Brownsville Rd., Pittsburgh, PA 15210) at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 19. There is plenty of parking at the church and across the street at the bank.
The use of the Vigil of Easter as the first proclamation of Jesus’ Resurrection is traced back to the Third and Fourth Centuries. On Saturday night, the selected representatives of the major Christian Churches in Jerusalem are locked in the Tomb of the Holy Sepulchre to await the first light of morning (legend tells us that without matches, the candle in the locked chamber develops its own flame). This is only one of many stories that surround the Great Vigil and the week following.
Come and join in the celebration. Following our spiritual meal, there will be refreshments for all.
Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110 412-466-7773