The Great Vigil of Easter (March 31, 7:00pm): This is the first celebration of Easter and is among the most ancient of the liturgies we have. It begins on the night before Easter Day and, despite the late hour, the Vigil can be a wonderful service for older children because it is the epitome of “hands-on” liturgy with wonderful contrasting symbols of darkness and light, quiet reflection and loud rejoicing. There are four main parts to this service the first three of which are done in darkness, lit only by candlelight: a ritual of light in which we light the new fire and paschal candle, a liturgy of the Word when we listen to Scripture readings highlighting God’s saving plan for humanity and, thirdly, baptize new initiates to the faith and renew our own baptismal vows. Then, we come to a turning point in the service as we end the season of Lent and begin the first Eucharist of Easter. The proclamation is made: “Alleluia. Christ is risen!” and the people respond “The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!” at which time we enter brilliant light: candles on the altar are lit, the electric lights are turned on, and we begin to sing, ring bells, shake tambourines and other handheld instruments. The joyful contrast to Lent is unmistakable and as you blink in the light and sing the familiar song of praise you will no doubt see smiles of amazement on the faces around you. This is a moment when we glimpse a bit of heaven and can believe again that the Good News is indeed true after all. This year St. Peter’s is hosting our area celebration; joining in are the congregations of St. John Baptist (Thomaston), St. Thomas (Camden), and Nativity Lutheran (Rockport). Our preacher for the evening is the Rev. Lisa Smith Fry from St. Thomas’ Camden.
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