Our Easter observance really began last night. As we do every year, we made our family Paschal candle:
And took it with us to one of our sister congregations, where we lit it for the first time during the Great Vigil of Easter. This is my favorite service of the church year…I love how it begins with firelight outside at sunset, and ends with the full lights on inside the church as we celebrate the Resurrection!
We were at our church very early in the morning today, for the sunrise service. Bunny, Moose, and Ladybug participated in the outdoor reenactment prior to the service…the rain stayed away, and it was a beautiful morning!
After the first service, and a delicious breakfast of biscuits and gravy, we took pictures (much to my family’s chagrin), and attended the Easter Divine Service, which is probably my second favorite service of the church year. I love the abundance of Alleluias!
We’ve had a low-key afternoon at home since church, but the big Easter dinner feast is yet to come!
I’ve mentioned before that every year on Holy Saturday, we make a new Paschal candle from a candle kit. I thought that this year, I’d show the whole process, from wax sheets to finished product!
The candle began as a wick and several sheets of beeswax. The wax was slowly heated with a hair dryer, and then rolled around the wick. There are enough pieces of wax that all the children were able to have a turn, even Chickadee!
We actually made the candle itself a few weeks ago. but the decorative part of the candle-making process we saved for today, as we do every year. Bunny wrapped the gold cord around the bottom of the candle, Turkey handled the decorative transfers, Moose placed the “nails,” and Ladybug glued the gems on each nail.
After the Great Vigil of Easter, it is always Ryan’s job to bless the candle before we light it for the first time:
I think the finished product is quite lovely:
We leave the Paschal candle on our dining table throughout the season of Easter, and then it’s moved upstairs to the school room, where it resides near our church year banner. It will make a return to the table during the season of Advent, however, when we will anticipate lighting it again after the church service on Christmas Eve!
Today there’s an article on the Sisters of Katie Luther about my favorite church service of the year, the Great Vigil of Easter. If you’re unfamiliar with this service, or you’ve just always wanted to learn more about it, I encourage you to take a few moments on this Holy Saturday to read about what makes it such a beautiful, unique bridge between Good Friday and Easter Sunday!
So, what does the Great Vigil of Easter look like? What is a vigil, anyway? (That one is easy…it’s a devotional watching, often the night before a church festival.) Why should you go to a service on Saturday night (sometimes quite late, although often in the early evening instead), when you’re going to be up early on Easter Sunday morning anyway? What is the benefit of this service?
Now, I am may be biased, but the Great Vigil of Easter is my favorite service of the church year, and the one I have learned the most from over the years. The service is divided into four main parts: The Service of Light; Readings; The Baptismal Remembrance; and The Service of The Lord’s Supper. (Some churches also count the Service of Prayer, and the Service of The Word as unique parts). Each part of the Easter Vigil has a unique purpose, and the totality of the service bridges the gap from Good Friday to Easter morning.
via Easter Vigil – Sisters of Katie Luther.
A quote to ponder as we remember Jesus’ rest in the tomb:
What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled. Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam’s son. The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: “My Lord be with you all.” And Christ in reply says to Adam: “And with your spirit.” And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.” “I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.” “I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.” (quoted in For All the Saints, vol. III, p. 1037)