Church of the Resurrection

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Easter Vigil: Choose Your Own Adventure

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!

Category 1: I’m bringing a guest

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 ©.

Service Recommendations:

  • 1pm or 5pm Vigil: Light & Lessons

    • While these services are identical, the 1pm time is more family-friendly as it allows young children to get home in time for supper.

  • 10am Easter Sunday

    • 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.


Category 1.5: Families with young children

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

  • 6am Sunrise Service

    • 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!

Category 2: I’m a contemplative

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!

Service Recommendations:

  • 1pm or 5pm Vigil: Light & Lessons

    • 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.

  • 8pm-5am Vigil: All-Night

    • 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?

  • Highly Recommended Even If It’s Out of Your Comfort Zone: 6am Vigil: Sunrise Service

    • 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.

Category 3: The Enthusiast (aka anyone under 25 or with the stamina of a teenager)

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!

  • 5pm Vigil: Light & Lessons

    • 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.

  • 8pm-5am Vigil: All-Night

    • 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.

  • 6am Vigil: Sunrise Service

    • 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.

  • Bonus: 10am Easter Service

    • 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.

Where’s that Moment? Key

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.