All Saints Church, Amesbury held the Great Easter Vigil this year, at which Bishop Bill was both preacher and celebrant. Easter vigil is often held in traditional Christian churches, and people have been baptized at this time, along with adult catechumens being received into full communion with the Church. Held between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Day, it’s the first official Easter celebration.
On that night in Amesbury participants entered into a beautifully decorated sanctuary, though all one could see at first were rows of candles lining the aisle and light from each candle held by those entering the sanctuary in procession, right behind the Paschal candle. Once inside, the congregation heard Fr. Nathan Baxter beautifully sing the Exsultet before the Liturgy of the Word.
After the scripture readings, the water of baptism was blessed by Bishop Bill, and the congregation was able to renew their baptismal vows, with our Bishop leading the congregation in prayer and sprinkling them with baptismal water. Then the house lights went up, suddenly revealing flowers and plants adorning the alter; Christ is risen! was declared, and the sanctuary rang with the sound of bells, which the people had brought from home. Bishop Bill’s teaching on the meaning of baptism and the Resurrection followed, and those who wanted to receive the Eucharist before Sunday morning were able to do so.
From darkness to light, the Easter Vigil was beautifully orchestrated and presented for God’s people in the All Saints community; it’s a tradition that marks the transition from the sobriety of His Passion to the joy of His coming Resurrection. That bridge brings the worshipper from darkness to light right along with the sanctuary, ushering them into the events of 2,000 years ago, reminding them of their meaning and bringing them closer in Spirit to the risen Lord.