Easter Vigil ‘17 #haibun #npm17 #napowrimo2017 #Easter

The fire burns high above the pedestaled brazier. The interior of the Church of the Presentation lies in darkness. The congregation fills every pew and many seats in the auditorium wing. Some of us gather by the New Fire to share in the opening prayer and lighting of the new Paschal Candle. Deacon Andy leads us inside. From the paschal candle, the first of us light our handheld candles.

 Lit candle

by lit candle

we press back the darkness.

 Lecterns read aloud our life-giving stories. They are the same ones we’ve heard throughout our lives: the creation, Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, the parting of the Red Sea. A sense of serenity arises as these stories are read aloud once more, a serenity like when ripples on a pond appear, or when still water returns. I almost see a shimmer in the air.

 The Choir sings the responsorial psalms. Our Pastor, Father Bob, leads us in praying the recollections. Through them all we celebrate the Mystery that binds us together, that reveals to us the truth: We are not our own origin; we are not perfect, but Love perfects us; that Love delivers us through all the agencies of oppression we experience. Yes, this Love delivers me from the grief of Mom and Dad no longer celebrating beside me, for I know they celebrate beside me!

 Gloria!

a church interior

bathes in light

 Paul’s letter sounds out, reminding us that we died to all that kills us; we live in the One whom enlivens us. Then the Hallelujah breaks our hearts in joy! Deacon Andy reads aloud the Gospel according to Matthew. ¡El Señor Resucito! The Lord is Risen! Love saves us from ultimate death! Love transforms death into birth, a birth into ultimate life! 

“Gospel of the Lord.”

“Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!”

we chant together

 The Liturgy of the Word yields the sacraments of Initiation. A young Catechumen receives adult baptism. He professes his faith by answering “I do” to the questions of the Creed. Father Bob consecrates water in the baptismal font, then pours water over the catechumen’s head, saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Our applause echoes throughout the Church. We join the choir’s “Hallelujah.” as our newest brother Catholic exits to change from his brown robe to his white robe.

 Then we stand to profess our faith, a faith so alive in our hearts right now!

 Fr. Benny then invites us to come to the baptismal font and bless ourselves with the freshly consecrated holy water. The Choir sings “Wade in the Water” as we process forward and back. When Father Bob returns with our new brother, who can imagine what he thinks? After the choir’s conclusions and our applause, Fr. Bob tries, joking, “he thought he was being baptized into the Catholic Church.”

 The newly baptized catholic joins several other adults in receiving confirmation, completing their initiation into the Church.

 illuminated

anointed in new oil

these confirmed Catholics

 We celebrate The Liturgy of the Eucharist at last. First, our intersessions. Next, our Eucharistic prayers. Then, our recitation of the Our Father, and the sign of peace. Finally, our reception of The Eucharist, the sacred meal in which we become fully one in the Love that saves us.

 And suddenly, Deacon Andy says, “the Mass has ended, go in peace to love and serve the Lord, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!” And we answer, “Thanks be to God, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!”

 We kept the Vigil. We celebrated Easter. And so, we leave, singing, “Jesus Christ is risen today.”

 Hallelujah!

an empty cross replaced

by an empty tomb

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