OF OUR LORD
On March 26, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, in Canonsburg, we begin with darkness. The darkness itself is the first movement of the liturgy, so we begin our preparations with that darkness. It represents all darkness, and all the meanings of darkness - devoid of light, evil thoughts, motivations, deeds; all that is hidden and secret, deceitful and dishonest, divisive and abusive, immoral and sinful. It's the darkness of our world, and the darkness in our hearts.
Pastor John showed everyone just how talented he is with a flint (and lighter fluid). Then a light is struck. It breaks into the darkness.
The candle lit from the new fire is then processed into the community, and we receive its light and experience the power of that light as it grows. When the candle is brought front and center, we celebrate the Easter Proclamation. This prayer sounds like a Eucharistic Prayer. We give thanks and praise over this symbol of the Light of Christ in our midst and “consecrate” it as Christ's presence among us. Reading this proclamation carefully and letting its joyful song into our hearts is a wonderful way to prepare to feel its exultant praise at the Vigil.
Next, we receive the Word of our Salvation history. We begin with the Creation – where we had children from St. Paul’s and Resurrection acting out the creation with unique shirts depicting each day of creation.
We sail through the Bible to the flood. Pam Trboovich, from Messiah, read the account of the flood from Genesis.
Between each story we pray. Our fellow minister from the United Methodist Church in Mt. Lebanon - The Rev. Tom Strandburg (second year joining us) - reads the prayers in his booming voice.
Next we find ourselves in the Red Sea. Sue Devine, from Trinity (Sheraden), helped us to navigate through the sea to dry land.
Mary Haffely, from Resurrection, assists us in receiving a new heart and a new spirit in renewal, just as the people of Israel were renewed by God.
BY NOW IT IS EVIDENT THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT IS ALIVE AND WELL AT THE EASTER VIGIL. As the room of 60 people comes alive with movement and singing! Laura Carmichael’s fingers were flying over the keyboard.
Beverly Harris Schenz, from East Liberty Lutheran Church, literally visualizes the dry bones dancing in the dirt as she tells the story, as found in Ezekiel. By now, the audience is up and dancing with the music! Between Andrew, on the piano, and Peter, on the guitar, all feet were moving!
Pastor Tom Strandburg, from the UMC church in Mt. Lebanon, had the help of the “actors” from Bethany Evangelical Church, in Dormont, as we heard him tell us about the deliverance of Jonah. The entire room has gotten into the stories by now. There is movement and singing and laughter running amuck as Andrew played and sang a call-and-response song about Jonah.
The final story is told by Ed Sumrok, from East Liberty Lutheran Church, with the help of the entire room as he leads us out of the fiery furnace, along with Shaddrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
In addition to her fabulous musical talent, Haddie can also dance as we saw during the history telling. She and Karen (“the lady that brings Pastor Paul”) were instrumental in getting people to move and groove. Thank you ladies.
Nancy and Andrew lead us through the Litany of the Saints with their beautiful voices as Pastor Beth reminds us of our baptism and assists us in renewing our baptismal promises through word and water.
The sanctuary is dark and very quiet as we find our way to seats with our small candles. The “Three Days” or the Triduum is now over. We watch and wait for our Risen Christ, who promises to be present with us at the Holy Table.
This quiet and darkness is broken by the hand bells from Bethany (Dormont) in the hands of Sandy, Jim and Anna. Trumpets being played by Mike and Kalee from Christ, in Duquesne. And “Alleluia” cannot be contained any longer!
We are treated to a procession of the cross – carried by Travis; the torches – carried by Aaliyah and Diamond; the bearer of the Bible – Cory; the acolyte – Logan and all the pastors. With their help, we celebrated Easter in a joyous celebratory and thoughtful manner.
If you missed the Easter Vigil, you missed three hours of experiencing the wonderment of following our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through history; to the crucifixion; to the resurrection. We cried, we laughed, we sang, we danced, we learned, we broke bread with our Lord and each other.
We ate egg salad, ham salad (thanks Val and Cindy); drank wine, ate cookies and generally enjoyed each other as we gathered ourselves to return for Easter morning. Thank you to St Paul’s for hosting us and to ALL the people who helped and participated. It was an evening that will not leave our memories any time soon.
The tomb is empty. There is Light in the midst of our darkness. We’ve been fed by the Word and given new life in the waters of baptism. We eat his Body and drink his Blood and receive the life in him that he promises. Alleluia, Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
Mark your calendars for Saturday April 16, 2017 at 7:00 PM. You DO NOT want to miss this.
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sheraden, 3102 Sherwood Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15204 412-331-0600