My Annual Pitch to Recover the Easter Vigil 
(Because it's Awesome)

I've written portions of this blog before in bits and pieces other places, but here it is again. Because we need reminding, again. Resurrection is sneaky, so we need reminding, Beloved.

"This is the night!"

That refrain, sung over and over again in the Exsultet of the Easter Vigil,  has become somewhat of an echo joke around the ministry  staff at all the churches I've served.

Even when used in reference to other nights and other events, uttering something even remotely reminiscent of that phrase will usually  elicit an echo from somewhere amongst the ministry staff.

Or maybe the echo comes from some place else, someplace more  distant than the smirks shared amongst the staff reveal.

Actually, that's a good representation of just what the Easter Vigil is:  the Easter Vigil is an echo from the distant past, calling us back  into a deep spirituality found in the night of the empty tomb.

But...even that's not it.

No, it's more like an echo from the far future, calling us toward a  spirituality that is deeper than the pop prosperity the last  100 years of Christianity has tried to shove down our throats.

It's both ancient and future.

I mean, if you want to call something "emergent," the Vigil is about as emergent as you can get. It emerges from the memory banks of the Didache, that ancient handbook of the first church. It emerges from the future, your future, the future of the empty tomb where we meet the Christ in the dead of night. All of us. All of us will be there: dead, the night of life.

It emerges from that place inside of us all that needs to be  told something again and again for it to sink in. 

We were practicing the Ezekiel reading for the Vigil a few years ago.

Yes, practicing.

We were practicing because the Vigil takes stories of salvation from the  very beginning of Scripture, and weaves them together like a dense  fabric that stretches out over the night and the darkened church to  provide safety and reassurance. And they must be practiced,   performed  almost, to get at their radical root.

And so we were practicing, and the reader asked me, "Why don't all the other churches do a Vigil?"

"Because I think most other places think the Vigil is boring or banal...or they've lost it to history," I said.

"Huh," he said. "I think that if they understood  what  it was  about they'd want to do it."

Easter Celebration Worship Services
Sunday, April 21
 7:00, 9:00 & 11:00 am

Easter Sunday Readings
John 20:1-18
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 

 (9:00 & 11:00)
Acts 10:34-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
1 Corinthians 15:19-26 
Luke 24:1-12 

All Sunday Morning Education classes will return next Sunday, April 28.


Good Friday Services
Friday, April 19 at 12:15 & 7:00 pm
Prayer Vigil ends at 6:00 pm; come by the Sanctuary anytime 1:00 - 6:00 pm to pray.

Easter Vigil & Reception
Saturday, April 20 at 7:00 pm
If you can provide refreshments or clean up after the reception,
sign up on Realm.

Easter Celebration Worship Services
Sunday, April 21
 7:00, 9:00 & 11:00 am

The church office will be closed on Monday, April 22. Happy Easter!

Penny Wars & Wristband Sales Have Begun!  Bring in your pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollar bills to support the orphans of Mnene Parish. Penny jars will be located in the Narthex. Next Sunday, we will again be selling wristbands for $5 each to support your team at the Kicknic. All proceeds go to Mnene Outreach Ministry. Team wristband colors will be revealed at the Kicknic on May 19.

Sign up for the June 23-26 Hurricane Relief Mission Trip.  Only a few spots are available, so be sure to sign up in the Narthex. Want to help but unable to attend? Learn more about ways to help, including  school supply kits , at  or contact the church office.

Worship on Wednesday -  April 24, 5:15 pm, Fellowship Hall -  Is your family looking for a worship service that allows your young one(s) to move and respond creatively?  This worship service is geared towards families with small children, but all are welcome!  Join us for pizza at 5:15 pm followed by a family-friendly worship at 5:30-6:00 pm.

Spend an Evening with GSLC Coffeehouse on  Friday, April 26, 7:00-8:30 pm . This ministry offers live music, refreshments, and fellowship to adults of all abilities. 25 adult and youth helpers are needed to assist with set-up, serving, and clean-up for approximately 200 guests.  A great volunteer activity for families, too!  No experience needed. Contact for more information.

More information about upcoming events is available in  this week's bulletin announcements. 

The Spring 2019 edition of The Shepherd's Voice is now available online.

Health and Healing  for Arthur Hube, brother of Barbara Kjellberg; Guiseppe D'arrigo, friend of Courtney Tyson; Eileen and Ed Morrow, friends of Sue Ragone; Bob Torbet, brother of Suzanne Hagen and uncle of Brenda Dozer; Jane Thieme; Shauna Marietta, niece of Cheryl Kruse; and Angela Ianuale, family of Kathy Ianvale. 

Thanksgiving for the Rite of First Communion for Liam Ashton, Evan Eaton, Olivia Ewing, Erin Haugland, Ella Parrish, Luke Stigall, and Sydney Worrell on Maundy Thursday. 

For the Orphans of Mnene Parish , including Belinda Mavigire and Patrick Ndlovu.

Belinda, 22, is a tall young lady with bright eyes that mirror her ever-present smile. She often wears bright hats, making it easy to pick her out in the photos we receive periodically from Mnene. She gathered with many of our orphans in February when they received supplies. She is currently living with her Grannie, helping to take care of her homestead, harvesting maize and ground nuts.  Mnene staff are working with her to pursue post secondary education.  Her Mail For Mnene partner is Bob and Robin Kirk.
Patrick, 23, is no longer active in our GSLC support program.  He struggled in school. He had asked to take a course to become a driver but never arrived to take the final test. It is believed that he may have succumbed to the lure of the gold panning craze, which has caused a "wild west" atmosphere in the district outside Mnene. We continue to hold him in our prayers.

Visit the Wittenberg Information Center in the Narthex for photos of this week's orphans and  more information on the Mnene Ministry.
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