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Sermon for the Vigil of Easter

April 7, 2013 Leave a comment

Paschal-ErspamerNote: this sermon was preached by Pastor Greg Alms from Redeemer, Catawba.  I’ve heard Pastor Alms preach well before but I think this sermon is really good.  I commend it to you.  He also has an excellent bloghttp://incarnatusest.blogspot.com/.

Click here for mp3 audio 29 Sermon for Holy Saturday.mp3

Thoughts on Holy Week at Augustana

April 9, 2010 Leave a comment

As I noted in the previous post, Holy Week this year was an especially busy time that came on the heels of an especially busy time.  But Holy Week this year was great.  It was a lot of work, not just for the pastor either, for the altar guild, secretary, the organist and the musicians.  It was busy, I can’t deny that.  But it seemed to be a blessed busy-ness, if you get my meaning.  There is something to Holy Week that just happens when you give yourself over to it and let it wash all around you.  The readings are longer.  The liturgies are slightly different.  The music is solemn and yet joyous.  It’s good stuff, theologically cool.

Since I arrived at Augustana, I’ve simply tried to say that Holy Week is to be observed and I’ll do my best to lead us in observing it.  There is Palm Sunday with it’s abrupt turn from jubilant hosannas to the passion of our Lord.  We have a midweek service at 9:30 am and during Lent this year we had a full sermon at those services.  We finished the last one Holy Wednesday.  Then, of course, the solemnity of Holy Thursday with the stripping of the altar.  This year we had a cantor chant Psalm 22 as the altar was stripped.  It was very moving.  Good Friday saw the Chief Service with Holy Communion and the hauntingly beautiful Reproaches, “What have you done to me, O my people…”

And then there was the Vigil.

In the past, three congregations in the area got together to hold the Vigil.  When I arrived I was invited to participate and this year we hosted it at Augustana.  If you have never been to a Vigil, go next year.  It is the reversal of everything, of Good Friday and even Maundy Thursday.  At Augustana we have a cemetery and we struck the new fire there.  We then followed the paschal candle (pillar of fire) out of the place of darkness and death into the place of light and eternal life!  It was really moving.  We even quickly reappointed the chancel during the singing of the Gloria in Excelsis.  “Christ is risen, indeed!”  I was so glad with the way things had gone, I couldn’t get to sleep that night.  I hope that next year we have confirmations or a baptism or two to do.

The breakfast is always a great tradition on Easter morning after the sunrise service.  What a great time to eat and visit with friends.

We couldn’t do it all without the many laypeople for whom Easter is the highlight not just of the liturgical year but of their year too.  A blessed busy-ness.

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