In some sense, you might say that the Easter Vigil service is to Easter what the Christmas Eve service is to Christmas. Just as the Christmas Eve service is the first liturgical celebration of Christmas, so is the Easter Vigil the first liturgical celebration of Easter.
Actually, many people who study liturgy consider the Easter Vigil to be the central and most important service of the entire Christian year.
The Easter Vigil has four parts:
- The Service of Light (or Lucernarium) begins the night with the first lighting of the Paschal Candle (the large “Easter Candle” that we light through the entire season of Easter). The deacon chants an ancient song about the light of Christ and the salvation of God’s people brought about through the resurrection. The word “Paschal” comes from the word “Passover.” In English we call the resurrection celebration “Easter,” but many languages use the word for “Passover” like in Spanish, Pascua. Jesus’ death took place during the Passover. In his death, he became for us the Passover lamb sacrificed for our sins. In his resurrection, he is God’s deliverance for his people from the bondage of Egypt (sin and death). Therefore Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Christ, “our Passover.”
- The Liturgy of the Word. During this part, we read several Old Testament passages that recount God’s saving acts in human history—especially the Exodus and also the prophesies that promised that God would save his people, gather them, and fill them with his Spirit.
- Holy Baptism. In ancient times, catechumens (converts to Christianity preparing to be baptized) spent as much as three years preparing for their baptism. Lent was an especially rigorous 40 day fast that prepared them to receive baptism at the Vigil. Baptism is a symbol of death and resurrection into the new life afforded to us in Christ. Thus, the Easter Vigil is especially appropriate for converts (and their children) to be baptized into the family of God.
- Holy Eucharist. This is the first Eucharist of Easter. Those who have been baptized for the first time now join the rest of the family around the table of our Lord. We eat the body of the crucified and risen Lord so that we might become his body for the world—and in doing so—we become witnesses of his resurrection until he returns.
Join us for this year’s Easter Vigil on Saturday, April 15.
Location: 115 N. Ave 53, Los Angeles, CA 90042 (the building directly behind Iglesia De La Comunidad)
Time: 7:00 pm
View photos from last year’s Easter Vigil here.