March 14, 2018
Without Lent, Easter tends to catch us off guard. But after the forty-day pilgrimage in the wilderness, we are ready to keep the Easter feast, to exult with all our hearts that Jesus is alive. Inasmuch as Lent has been preparing us pilgrims for Easter, Easter has a way of preparing us for heaven. It does so by satisfying our hunger, strengthening our commitment, and restoring our soul. In short, Easter- including the “little Easters” of Sunday worship throughout the year- is a taste of heaven, made available now through the power of the Holy Spirit. The kingdom of God is here. Come and see!
….Jesus has given us an open invitation to come to His house and be satisfied on Easter Sunday and beyond. That is why he referred to himself as the Bread of Life who satisfies our hunger and the Living Water who satisfies our thirst… Those who embrace the forty-day journey of Lent have done so because they trust Jesus is telling the truth about Himself: he is a feast for hungry people. And He was telling the truth about us: we are hungrier than we know. -from The Good of Giving Up, by Aaron Damiani
When I was in high school, my best friend and I spent a semester abroad. After our first few weeks of roaming starry-eyed through the streets of a new city, we noticed a distinct pattern to our walks. About 30 minutes in I would become hungry, and the walk would cease to be a lovely wandering and turn into a mission: find food. I quickly noticed that my friend did not seem to have the same pattern of hunger as myself. When I asked her about it, she laughed and told me that she rarely noticed hunger, and often missed meals because her body didn’t remind her it was hungry.
I was completely astounded, as hunger was almost an extension of my identity at the time. I could eat every few hours and still feel hungry for more food. As time has passed and my metabolism has slowed to a more regular pace, I have developed a better picture of how my friend could walk around with something other than the next pain au chocolat on her mind.
Every year, Lent gives me a chance to step back into my teenage relationship with hunger. This Lenten hunger is much deeper and broader than a simple desire for whatever I’m fasting from, though that is always the springboard. As I transform my daily routines through fasting, I find myself becoming aware of a whole ocean of hunger that lies just beneath the surface of my everyday distractions. The first few weeks of Lent, the hunger seems to be for more trivial things, like a change of pace or rest from an overloaded schedule. But as Lent progresses and Holy Week draws nearer, I begin to realize that the hunger is for something much more profound- it is for peace from sin and suffering. It is an unquenchable thirst for heaven and healing and wholeness; it is a hunger for nothing less than Jesus himself.
The problem, of course, is that my sinful nature wants to keep me from quenching that thirst. If I’m honest, the long weeks of Lent are not a triumphant exercise in replacing all of the things I’m fasting for with more Bible time and prayer. Instead, they are a long, agonizing reveal of how profound and deep-rooted my sins are, and how effectively those sins keep me from running to Jesus. I stumble along, wondering why I always struggle with depression this time of year and why these last few weeks of Lent inevitably find me wanting to escape to any location other than home and regular life. I’m parched and starving, stripped of my defense mechanisms through fasting, desperate for Living Water and the Bread of Life, and I still don’t have it within me to feast on Jesus.
This is why Easter will never fail to astound me. I find myself stumbling into Holy Week like a starved person, desperate for something I cannot buy for myself, and find a feast waiting for me. No matter how hungry I am, there is a fullness of joy waiting for me there that brings the satisfaction I could not find anywhere else. The truth of a Savior who knows my profound, helpless hunger and offers nothing less than Himself to satisfy it is the food I’ve been fasting for. I was indeed hungrier than I could ever know, and the taste of Heaven that is given at Easter is more satisfying than any meal I’ve ever had, even as a voracious teenager.
Prayerfully look over your Lent so far. As you’ve fasted, what hungers have been stirred in your soul?
Stop and bring those hungers before the Lord. What does he show you about their source?
If you are not feeling particularly hungry for Easter right now, what are some ways that you can finish your Lent by creating space for that hunger? Is there anything the Lord is asking you to give up in these final days of Lent?
Read the third post in our devotional series here.
Find more practical guidance as you walk through Lent in The Good of Giving Up: Discovering the Freedom of Lent, a new book by Fr. Aaron Damiani, the rector of our church plant, Immanuel Anglican in Chicago.
March 14, 2018
Whether you’re new to Resurrection or are one of the “old-timers” who remembers when we used to worship in a high school that looked like a castle, you’ve probably noticed something about our church culture: we’re a bit intense. If we’re going to do something, we like to do it right, and this translates into a willingness to tweak and change our systems on a yearly basis. Few things (beyond our basic theological commitments and a deep love of Bishop Stewart’s dancing) are set in stone, and so it is that as a congregant you may notice constant small changes to the way we run our services or ministries.
Case in point: our beloved Easter Vigil. This service has not been static since we outgrew the sanctuary in the high school castle, and as such may leave you a bit confounded. Is it a festival or a vigil? When exactly does is start and end?! Where’s the moment when Steve Williamson sings that one song with the refrain “This is the night,” the heavens open, and a host of angels appear? Or when, out of nowhere, your Bishop shouts his head off and the whole congregation joins him?
Have no fear! This year, we are proud to introduce the “Choose Your Own Adventure: Vigil Edition” guide, featuring a handy “Where’s that Moment?” key at the end of the post. All you have to do is identify which category you fall into, and your Vigil experience will be laid out clearly before you!
First of all, congratulations! You’ve earned 1,000 DMW (Deacon Matt Woodley) Points for inviting someone to join you at Easter Vigil. These points entitle you to lay back and not feel pressured to bring your guest to Every Single Service, as well as being included in Deacon Matt’s cache of Sermon Illustrations: Outreach Edition ©.
While these services are identical, the 1pm time is more family-friendly as it allows young children to get home in time for supper.
This service is specifically geared towards guests while keeping all of the elements we love about Easter at Resurrection: dancing, flowers, and exhausted leaders who are running on pure Holy Spirit fueled joy.
Because children are a little bit like guests who decide they like you so much they’re just going to stay, attend the same services as if you were bringing guests with the slight tweak of swapping out the Easter Sunday 10am service for
This is basically when your kids wake up anyhow, so you might as well embrace it by getting all dressed up and giving them the chance to shout and sing and dance, with no risk of waking up the neighbors!
Odds are you’ve already soaked in Maundy Thursday, Stations of the Cross, Confessions, and the Good Friday service, and you’re ready for more. We have just the arc of services for you!
This service begins in darkness, allowing you to savor a feeling of aloneness with the Lord despite being in a room packed with people. It then proceeds to lay out deep theological themes both musically and theatrically, giving you fodder for intellectual discussion and contemplation for many weeks.
Sit and savor seven consecutive hours of digging deep into Bible passages accompanied by original music, prayer, and progressively less and less people. By the end, your exhaustion is guaranteed to bring you a depth of insight into Bible passages that is difficult to achieve when well rested… or wait… Is that just you nodding off to sleep and dreaming about the sermon?
After making it this far, you might as well finish off your Vigil with a joyful noise! Just consider it a very enthusiastic contemplation of the Resurrection.
Because you’re the type of person who can’t stand to be left out of any good experience, even a 13-hour long service.
Service Recommendations: ALL OF THEM!
Attending the 5pm service allows you the bragging rights of not leaving the building for the next 15 hours! Just don’t forget to bring snacks, a light blanket, and something to change into for the Sunrise Service, when everyone who was sane will show up after a good night’s sleep dressed in their finest.
Nothing beats that feeling of casually asking someone how they liked that sermon at 1am, and wasn’t the 4am original song beautiful? What? They were sleeping? They REALLY missed out.
While this service is wonderful no matter what, there really is nothing like transitioning on no sleep from a peaceful eight hours of preaching and prayer to the energy of the Sunrise Service. The slightly delusional quality of the experience especially enhances your dancing skills… Just ask the Bishop.
While not technically part of the Vigil service, by staying through to this service you ensure your name being written in a special scroll reserved for those crazy enough to live at church for 17 hours straight. This scroll is usually reserved for the staff equivalent of the Marines.
Many of us have favorite moments during the arc of the Easter Vigil, but it can be like a Where’s Waldo puzzle to find it as the services have changed every year. This guide highlights a few of the old favorites, for those of you wanting to ensure you don’t miss out on that one original song we only sing once a year or the baptism of your new godson.
The Exsultet 1pm & 5pm Vigil: Light & Lessons
This ancient song is sung after Bishop Stewart has pounded on the doors of the Sanctuary and entered into darkness, lit the new Paschal candle, and the light of Christ has been spread throughout the Sanctuary.
Theatrical Readings:1pm & 5pm Vigil: Light & Lessons
This year featuring a new reading for the first time ever at Resurrection!
“He’s Alive!” song/Holy Noise 6am Vigil: Sunrise Service only
While there will be great rejoicing at the proclamation that Christ is risen at the 10:30 Easter service, it will not be preceded by the much beloved Don Francisco song “He’s Alive.”
Baptisms 6am Vigil: Sunrise Service
The Gathering Reading (Fear Not, O Zion) 6am Vigil: Sunrise Service
This reading concludes our All Night Vigil at 6am, and features Bishop Stewart reciting the Zephaniah passage called “The Gathering of God’s People."