The Great Vigil of Easter

It is the climax of the story of Holy Week and actually takes us from the death to new life. Beginning outside on the Terrace with the lighting of the New Fire – the return of the light of Christ to our midst – the Paschal Candle is lit for the first time from this fire, and by its light the congregation enters the darkened church. The story of God’s relationship with humanity is told, moving from creation to salvation. Through a series of readings we hear about times when God’s people feared that all was lost but were saved by the power of God’s love. These include the story of creation, the flood, Israel’s deliverance at the Red Sea, Isaiah’s promise that salvation is offered to all, and the valley of dry bones. With the conclusion of the history of salvation, bells are rung, the lights come up and the celebration of Easter begins with the Easter greeting, “Alleluia, Christ is risen!” “The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!” The service then continues with the reading of the resurrection story and Holy Communion. After the service, we celebrate Easter with strawberries and Champagne.

Good Friday

On Good Friday, we commemorate the events immediately leading up to and including the death of Jesus Christ as we read John’s account of those events. We pray the solemn collects for the Church and for the world. At the conclusion of the service the bell is tolled 33 times to commemorate each year of Jesus’ earthly life. We leave the service in silence, waiting for the next chapter of the story to unfold.