The Epistle
March 31, 2021
“This is the night”: The Easter Vigil
Dear St. Aidan’s family,

Luminous. That is the word that keeps recurring as I think about the Great Vigil of Easter – both in memory and in anticipation of the feast that you and I will celebrate together in a few days. This service, the first celebration of Easter and the centerpiece of the Christian year, shines with more than the firelight that radiates from the Paschal Candle and fills worshippers’ hands, dispelling the darkness of the long, sad Holy Saturday. 
If you have never been to an Easter Vigil, perhaps it’s because the name doesn’t fully convey its wonder. “Vigil,” in some contexts, sounds like an all-night event (it’s not); and the fact that it’s the eve of Easter Day leads some to believe it’s a mournful continuation of Jesus’ burial.
It is just the opposite. As the first celebration of Easter, it’s our first chance to shout the Alleluias we buried back in February (so long ago!). We begin outdoors in near darkness, igniting a “new fire” from which the new Paschal Candle is lit. This year, a handful of us will assemble in procession, but those of you at home on Zoom will get to see and hear everything. First, we process into the sanctuary, announcing “The Light of Christ” into the darkness. You will hear the ancient and haunting chant The Exsultet, proclaiming the story of salvation and extolling the “marvelous and holy flame” that reminds us of Christ’s victory over the grave. The story also shines as three Old Testament lessons weave a theme through our salvation history and set the stage for the Gospel at the heart of our Christian faith. Then comes a festive celebration of Holy Communion – remembering, as always, that “Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.” Throughout, we will sing our joy with glorious music and end with the good news of Easter: “Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!”
 Although this year, as last, most of you will be singing and celebrating at home, I hope you will be inspired to come in person next year when (hopefully) everyone will be free to gather.
Easter, of course, takes all its joy from vanquishing the sorrow of Good Friday and the passion that begins to unfold tomorrow, Maundy Thursday. If you take the time to experience those services (each at 7:30 p.m.) you will find your Easter joy deepened and enriched. In Godly Play, we tell a story called the Faces of Easter, using plaques depicting seven phases of Jesus’ life. The final plaque shows the face of the crucified Christ, but to the children’s surprise it is a two-sided plaque; the image on the other side is our risen Lord. “Look,” we say, “they are two sides of the same story. When you see this side, you know that this side is there, too. You can’t take them apart.” To see this part of the story, click on the link here under Family Formation.
Nor can we separate Easter from all that comes before. Wherever you find yourself in this holiest of weeks, I hope you will find your way to one or more of the services that lead up to Easter Day. And on that day, whether you attend the 9:30 a.m. Zoom service or gather outdoors at 11:00 a.m. for our first Holy Communion in a year, may you experience the fullness of joy that only Resurrection can bring. Alleluia!

The Rev. Dr. Rosemary Beales
Interim Rector
Please Note
Rev Rosemary and Eileen will be taking a much needed day off next week after Easter so there will not be a weekly Epistle mailing next Weds.
Thank You.
Children and Youth Formation
Youth and Children 
GREAT WORK to the youth, who packed over 400 bagged breakfasts and lunches for VICHOP and provided the hot dinner for the shelter this weekend. The youth had a huge impact on this important outreach event in our community-if you see one, be sure to thank them!

Hope to see lots of families at the Easter services online or in person this weekend. Be sure to make your own Paschal candle with beeswax you received in the mail!
Here is a link with an explanation of the Paschal Candle and how to make one with the supplies you received. 
Watch your email next week for an update of Christian Education programs for youth and children now that the weather is nicer and days are longer!

Note
Saved recordings of the Godly Play Sunday School, including the final "Faces of Easter" can be found on the "education" tab on the St. Aidan's website. Linked here.
Upcoming Dates to Remember
*Mailings with links to attend our Virtual Holy Week services will be sent out each morning. Please look for them.

Looking Ahead, Holy Week:

Maundy Thursday, April 1 - 7:30 pm Virtual (no compline at 7:00 pm)

Good Friday, April 2 - 7:30 pm Virtual (no compline at 7:00 pm)

Great Vigil of Easter, April 3 - 7:30 pm Virtual (no compline at 7:00 pm)

Easter Day, April 4
9:30 am Virtual, 11:00 am Outdoor*,
12:30 pm Outdoor*
(additional service will be offered if the 11:00 am service reaches 50 participants),
and 5:30 pm Celtic Virtual

April 4th, Easter Sunday, 11:00 am Outdoor service

*Please Note: Outdoors services noted above will be weather permitting.
There is still time...Easter Flowers
We'd like to offer everyone the opportunity to sponsor our yearly Easter flowers as in years past. Please sign-up by emailing the Church Office at staidansalexandria@gmail.com Be sure to let us know your dedication so it can be noted in the service sheets.
The suggested donation is $20 which can be mailed in prior to Easter. Be sure to note "Easter Flowers" in the memo line.
You may also make a direct donation using the donate button on our website. Please choose the “General Operating” choice and it will get applied to our Flowers. You will not have any place to add your dedication if you donate online so please email Eileen in the office so she can be sure to add your names/s to the list.
Thank You.
Final session of Lent Madness TONIGHT
This week we will study the lives of the “Faithful 4” Saints and decide who will be crowned with the Golden Halo. Come, listen and get inspired as St. Aidan’s parishioners present the lives of these remarkable individuals! Designed by two Episcopal priests as a lighthearted way to learn about our companions on the Way, Lent Madness uses a bracket adapted from basketball’s March Madness.  See the link in last Saturday's E-news. 
Please note: No preparation is necessary to participate.
If you have any questions, please contact Ted Renaud.
Securing the Future
If You've Got An Hour; We Could Use Your Power!

Choose a project from the list and spend some time at St. Aidan's.  Once you & your group have selected a task, contact Mike Brynczak to discuss the timing and the details of the project. His cell number is 703-795-0892 and his email is mbrynczak@verizon.net. Together we can make our buildings and grounds ready for our next chapter and secure the future of St. Aidan’s. 

Don't Leave Us in a Lurch; Sign Up to Help Beautify the Church!

Day School News
St. Aidan's has a rich history of partnership between the parish and our day school, which is, above all, a ministry of the church. Beginning today, we will share a link to the Day School's monthly newsletter in the Epistle. Rev. Rosemary also provides a summary of parish activities to Day School families. We hope these communications will enhance appreciation and awareness on both sides of our campus, as we celebrate that we are one community with love for all God's children.

Outreach Continuing
As food is collected, volunteers will take it to Rising Hope which serves
many families along the Route 1 corridor in our area. 
They have asked for canned meat, canned vegetables, canned fruit,
cereal and diapers in all sizes.
The Outreach Committee greatly appreciates the ongoing efforts of the
St. Aidan’s community to provide food for those in need.
From the Treasurer
Thanks to all who support St. Aidan's in so many ways! Here is our Pledge Link if you would still like to donate

Your support makes so many good things happen at St. Aidan's and beyond.

Total annual pledge budget through March - $65,775
Received to date (March 23rd) - $44,706
Thank You for your support of this amazing community!
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We are happy to report we now have a Make a Donation here button on the St Aidan's website. You will find the Donate button on
the Giving page under the Pledge button.
We still encourage parishioners to Pledge so our budget
can be planned in advance but this new format gives us all options.
Thank you.
Worship
We worship virtually on Sunday at 9:30 am and 5:30 pm as well as every weeknight evening at 7:00 pm. You are always welcome at St. Aidan's,
wherever you may be on your faith journey.
Service Links
If you are not receiving our separate mailing each week with links for worship gatherings and would like to be added to that list, simply reach out to the office and let us know. Those links are sent out on Saturday. staidansalexandria@gmail.com
St. Aidan's
St. Aidan's has been serving the Stratford Landing area & beyond since 1963.
We worship outdoors, weather permitting, on Sundays at 11:00 am and virtually at 9:30 am and 5:30 pm (Celtic). We also offer evening prayer every weeknight at 7:00 pm. You are always welcome at St. Aidan's, wherever you may be on your faith journey.
Some Helpful Links:
The Center for Spiritual Deepening at St. Aidan's supports the soul and heart work of those seeking a deeper sense of God's presence in their lives. Check out the Center and its offerings Here.