Easter: From Vigil to Celebration to Discipleship
Easter is deep, rich, and impactful. Easter is our annual and regular reminder that because of Jesus EVERYTHING has changed. This is an invitation for everything to change. The Easter season begins with a vigil and ends with a party! I wanted to share two resources from the PC(USA) Presbyterian Mission Agency about Easter worship.
The Easter Vigil The Easter Vigil is officially the first service of Easter. In fact, Christian feast days generally begin at sunset on the previous day (best known in the example of Christmas Eve). For this reason, the duration of the Easter Triduum ("three days") is from the evening of Maundy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday. The same principle applies to the Jewish reckoning of liturgical time, in which the Sabbath begins at dusk and continues to nightfall of the following day. This is reflected in the priestly "refrain" of the Genesis 1 creation story: "and it was evening, and it was morning, the nth day."
The Season of Easter Easter isn't just a Sunday – it's a season. One day out of 365 is hardly sufficient to celebrate the great mystery of our faith – that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Accordingly, the season of Easter lasts seven weeks (a "week of weeks"), spanning the 50 days from the Sunday of the Resurrection to Pentecost Sunday and encompassing the festival of the Ascension of the Lord.
The season of Easter is intended to be a joyful time for celebrating the presence of the risen Christ in the church. Of course, Easter really isn't just a season either. In the fullest sense, Easter is a new way of life – in which we are "dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:11), called to "walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). Every year, for fifty days, the church celebrates and rehearses this new way of life in the Season of Easter – as we await its completion in the fullness of Christ's reign.
How will you celebrate Easter this year? How will you proclaim to the world that through Jesus Christ, God has changed everything about you and your reality?
I was reminded recently of the simply stated but profound impact being a disciple has on our lives. In our current confirmation class we were talking about discipleship. As I was looking across the room at two middle school boys, I couldn't help but think of those first disciples-about that age.
I was struck anew when I said "In Jesus' day, when he called you to be a disciple, you literally left everything you knew to follow." Thinking of these boys and their future, what would they be leaving? What have I left behind? What have you left behind?