April 20 | 8:00 pm | Church
If you were to pick just one church service to attend each year it should be this one! The Great Vigil is the first service of Easter, the most joyous worship service of the year by far, and the most ancient in Christianity. Little about this service has been altered for fifteen hundred years. It begins outside, in the garden, around a bonfire. Candles are lit as the most ancient hymn in the Christianity, the Exsultet, is chanted by a cantor. The congregation follows the cantor and the thurifer who is swinging incense, into the darkened church. The story of salvation is read from the Old Testament, then baptism (or renewal of baptismal vows) takes place, after which the priests bless the congregation with holy water. Silence then settles as, as more candles are lit…then the lights come on as the celebrant shouts out, “Alleluia, Christ has Risen,” to which the congregation responds “The Lord has risen indeed, Alleluia.” Then everyone in the congregation rings bells as together they sing Jesus Christ is risen today. The Eucharist is celebrated, and then all gather in the Great Hall for a celebratory dessert.