Easter Vigil Service

Presider:

Dear friends in Christ, on this most holy night when Jesus made his journey from death to life, we gather in vigil and prayer. This is the Passover of Jesus the Christ. Through light, word, and silence, we honour the new life he unleashed into the world through the deep mystery of death and resurrection.

BELL

3 Minutes silence

Presider:  Let us pray.

Redeemer God, source of life and goodness,
open our hearts as we hold vigil in this most holy night.
Grant that as we sit together in our separate places,
we may sense the love that stirs in these dark days.
May we know that we share in the everlasting festival of your radiance,
even when it comes slowly and we barely perceive
the wonder and beauty being born in this moment,
through Jesus Christ, who is light and grace in the midst of darkness. Amen.

Candle is lit.

Presider: May the light of Christ,

Together: illumine our hearts and minds
as we await his rising in glory.

BELL – silence

Luke 23:50-56

Presider:

50 Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, 51had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God.

Another:

52This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid.

Presider:

 54It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning.

Another:

55The women* who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid.

Presider:

56Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.

Another:

On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

*[61Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (Mt. 27:61)]

BELL

Presider: Let us pray

Gracious and loving God, we sit this night with the Marys
in the silence and stillness of this dark and lonely hour.
Help us not to look away from their sorrow;
help us to bear our own loss and grief in these days
when so much has been taken from us.
As we sit in this place of pain and sadness,
may we find the courage of the Marys to walk in faithfulness and trust,
with the Christ who lights our way in the midst of darkness. Amen

BELL – 2 minute silence

Leader: Only two of his followers came with him to the end. Matthew says they were Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” – one Mary with a reputation, one Mary with no name. Let one speak for both, as she recalls the dark and difficult time just before the unexpected breaking forth of light in the resurrection of the Christ.

Leader: Mary, were you not frightened to be associated with this man who had just been executed as a despicable criminal?

Mary: Yes, we were frightened. It was a violent terrifying day, full of pain and horror. We saw betrayal, injustice and death. The sky turned black. It was as if the heavens cracked open and bled sorrow upon the earth.

Leader: So, what gave you the courage – you alone of all his followers, just two women – to make this final journey in honour of a dead man?

Mary: There was no courage in us. We trembled all the way to the tomb. We felt the tears would never end. The grief swept over us in waves. But, in Jesus we had always known the presence of something deeper and stronger than all the riot and tumult of our emotions. Perhaps something of this strength lingered inside of us and gave us the strength to put one foot in front of the other.

Leader: Didn’t you sense the terrible danger of being seen as one of his followers? Everyone else sensibly had gone into hiding.

Mary: Yes, we knew the danger. But we had lost so much. Truly, it seemed there was nothing more that could be taken from us.

Leader: What had you lost?

Mary: Everything… all the beauty had been drained away from the world. The light was gone. There was only darkness.

Leader: What did you find at that tomb?

Mary: Nothing. There was nothing but death. We found no hope in this place. It was a place of denial and defeat – the denial of life, the defeat of love. All light had been extinguished.

Leader: What ever did you think you were going to do?

Mary: We had no plan. We had descended to a place of despair beyond planning. We could only stumble forward, in the hope that we might gain some small comfort by being near his physical remains. But it was hopeless. He was just as dead in the tomb as he had been when they took him off the horrifying wood of that awful cross. It was over. All our dreams lay shredded on the side of that hill they call “Calvary” and nothing at the tomb helped to knit back together the tattered garment of our lives.

Leader: And so you left.

Mary: It was just one more impossibly difficult thing to do in so many days of impossible things. It made no sense to remain. There was no solace for our grief in this place. We went home. Habit and custom dictated our actions and we did the only thing we knew to do before the blank wall of death. We went home. We prepared spices and ointments for a proper burial.

Leader: But he was already buried, wrapped in a linen cloth and laid in a rock-hewn tomb. What were you thinking?

Mary: Of course, it made no sense. But there are times when sitting still seems impossible. You just have to do something.

Leader: But, then, having finished your labours, then you were forced to be still, to do nothing on this sabbath day.

Mary: Yes, it is the wisdom of our tradition that on the seventh day, we should rest. We were forced to just sit with our grief, to face the horror of all we had seen, to allow the loss to ravage our sorrowful hearts.  There was no turning away. There were no distractions that could avert our gaze. We could only bear the brokenness and pray in our faltering way that the shards of broken glass would not savage our hearts beyond repair.

Leader: And so you waited.

Mary: I’m not even sure we had enough hope to call it waiting. We could not discern even a glimmer of the light we had so cherished in Jesus.

Leader: Let us pray.

Lord, we are tired of waiting. It is hard to keep faith when the way forward
remains obscured by doubt and uncertainty.
Help us to rest in that place of faithfulness where the Marys lived.
Like these brave women, may we risk everything
to open our hearts to the beauty of your Presence in our being.
Help us to see your light dawning on the horizon of our doubts and fears
that we may move through the confusion of this painful night
with hope and trust. Amen.

5 Minutes of silence

Presider:

Now O Lord as the days your Passion
draw to a close,
may we bear with hope the days of sorrow
that precede the gladness of your rising.
Give us the courage and strength of the Marys
to live in the deep stream of your love and goodness,
through Christ our Lord. Amen

Blessing

Bell 3xs