April 7, 2007

How Holy Is This Night!

This is the night! The night when our Lord and Father brought our fathers out of Israel, the night when all who believe in Christ are delivered from bondage to sin, the night when Christ our Lord arose from the dead!

The Easter Vigil is my favorite service of the year, and this year was particularly wonderful. Beginning outside near the bell tower, we blessed the new Paschal Candle, offered prayers for those who would receive Holy Baptism, and then processed into the darkened church. The gorgeous smell of the lilies told us that Easter was here, though we could not yet see the white paraments and banners. Pastor Gaub holding the candle high before the darkened altar - "The Light of Christ!" Then, the house of God began to ring out with rejoicing - our thanks and praise for redemption. "Oh, how wonderful and beyond all telling is Your mercy toward us, O God, that to redeem a slave You gave Your Son."

Then, settling in for the recitation of the economy of salvation - from Creation, to Flood, to the crossing of the Red Sea, to the invitation to come to the waters and drink, to the promise of a new heart and new spirit, to the resurrection of the dry bones, to the salvation of those who spurned idolatry and were cast into the fiery furnace.

Processing to the font, we sang the Song of the Three Young Men, in the lovely new setting in LSB (#931). And then, the beautiful moment when three children of Adam were cleansed of the stain of sin in the waters of Holy Baptism, four more were confirmed, and another received into our church by transfer. "Do you you renounce the devil?" "Yes, I renounce him." "Do you wish to be baptized?" "Yes!" How wondrous is this night!

Then Pastor Gaub leading us in the resurrection litany, and finally the reading of the first Gospel. How wondrous is this night!

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