Apr 20, 2019, 8:30pm – 10:30pm
Highland Park United Methodist Church, Cox Chapel
3300 Mockingbird Lane
Dallas, TX US 75205
Date: Apr 20, 2019
The Easter Vigil, also known as the Great Vigil or Paschal Vigil, is the first service of Easter. The Vigil tells the story of God's saving acts in history, culminating in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The service consists of four parts: 1) The Service of Light; 2) The Service of the Word; 3) The Service of the Baptismal Covenant, and 4) The Service of the Table. Thus we celebrate God's saving work in Jesus Christ through the symbols of light, word, water, and the heavenly banquet.
The Vigil begins in the darkness of night. The community gathers around a new fire from which we light the Paschal candle, a symbol of Jesus, who came as the light of the world shining in the darkness. With lighted candles, we walk into the darkened chapel following the Paschal candle to remember that we are the pilgrim people of God following the light of Christ. The Service of the Word consists of a series of readings from the Old and New Testaments, the lessons providing a panoramic view of the ways in which God creates, redeems, and sustains humanity. These lessons retell the story of salvation history and summarize the faith in which we are baptized.
Because baptisms typically took place at the Easter Vigil in the earliest years of the Christian church, we include a reaffirmation of the baptismal covenant. We remember that we are baptized and all that that means. Water can both give life and destroy it; so also there is death and life in baptism as we die to sin and are raised to new life. The Vigil reaches its climax in a joyous celebration of Holy Communion, which is a sign of the heavenly banquet in which we all hope to share.