The Easter Vigil liturgy is rich with symbol and ritual, and the Scripture readings connect us to our ancestors in faith, living the very same hope that we live today. Its genesis is from a time in the ancient church when the People of God kept vigil through the night with those who were about to be baptized. It was at that time, and once again is coming to be treated as the central celebration of the year.
The series of readings from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) reviewed the stories that those about to be baptized would have encountered over the up to three-year time of their preparation. Between readings were psalms, silence, and prayer. After the vigil readings, the candidates would have been baptized and anointed with oil before sharing for the first time in the Holy Eucharist. Just imagine them emerging from the baptismal waters and the first words they hear are from Romans 6, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death…”
The gathering would have begun in darkness, the first symbol of the Vigil, so the Easter
Eucharist would take place at the dawning of the new day. The rubrics for the Easter Vigil in our Book of Alternative Services clearly state that the celebration is to begin in darkness, for the contrasts between darkness and light are essential. So you are encouraged, if possible, to do so on Saturday evening, or else rise before dawn on Sunday.
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