The Great Easter Vigil
"Dear friends in Christ: On this most holy night, in which our Lord Jesus passed over from death to life, the Church invites her members, dispersed throughout the world, to gather in vigil and prayer. For this is the Passover of the Lord, in which, by hearing his Word and celebrating his Sacraments, we share in his victory over death."
This is the opening to the liturgy of the Great Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. It announces in a short synopsis what our purpose in gathering together will be about. The Great Easter Vigil is one of the most ancient rites within the church and is in this author's opinion, the crowning worship service of the church. In it the church
remembers our time before coming to know God, recounts God's love for us throughout the centuries, and wonders at the miracle and mystery of the redeeming work at the cross.
We welcome new members into the church - the body of Christ - through baptism, and where we also renew our own baptismal promises where we promised to repent and return to the Lord when we have gone astray, where we have promised to love one another and treat each other with dignity and respect, and to seek and serve Christ in all people. Often the minister will sprinkle water from the Baptismal font on the people a reminder and tangible sign of their own baptisms into Christ's body, into new life with Him.
We then turn to give thanks to God for sending Jesus to be our sacrifice and to open the door to life and freedom with God for all eternity. We do this by celebrating the Eucharist or Holy Communion. It is a thanksgiving for Jesus being our passover lamb. In the Exodus story, the angel of death passed over the houses with the blood of a lamb on the doorposts, so by Jesus' blood shed at the cross, we have been given a new beginning, a new life(some might call this 'born again') and the angel of death passes over us too.
We invite everyone to come and experience the wonder and mystery of this great event on Saturday at 9pm.