Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Easter Vigil

On Christmas Eve we have one of our largest crowds of worshippers at St. John's. On Christmas Day we have about 25 (or fewer). Those numbers are reversed on Easter. The more ancient "eve" to gather is Easter Eve - the Great Vigil Service! There is no finer, richer liturgy (Good Friday being a close second) that the Church presents for worship and edification!The service begins in total darkness. A fire is lit and the Paschal Candle (the big tall candle with the current year on it) is blessed and lit. This represents the Church and World coming out of darkness as Christ rises from the dead (He is the Light of the World!). Then the Exultat - and ancient hymn explaining the theology of the Resurrection - is chanted. After this we read a series of prophecies from the Old Testament, from Creation to the foretelling of God's promise of a Saviour. Then we bless the Baptismal Font, and renew our baptismal promises. We then kneel and sing the Litany of the Saints, reminding our selves that in our worship we are surrounded by a wonderful crowd of witnesses.

At the end of the litany (the Church is stlll 'under-lit'), the lights are turned on and the resurrection is proclaimed - HE IS RISEN INDEED! We then have Holy Communion!

It is a powerful symbolic liturgy, and one of the most ancient of the Church....and it is underattended at St. John's! Would that more and more people would take advantage if this worship opportunity! And yes, if you want you can come back on Sunday morning for all the festivities!

Plan now to come down to St. John's by 8pm on Saturday and participate in this great service. It is held in the Chapel (use the Freeway Service Drive entrance).