I pray and trust that your Easter celebration is/has been (or will be, for our Eastern brethren and sistern) a blessed one.
We did everything in good order at St Philip’s parish in Blackburn North, under the leadership of our parish priest, Fr Nicholas Dillon. It is a privilege to be a member of the our little choir there and to contribute to the celebrations in a small way. Everyone put in a lot of hard work, and it paid off. As I said to the choir just before we began: remember, this is about prayer, not about performance. I also got to do the fire this year. That was fun too, as I got to combine two of my greatest delights – liturgy and camp fires (sans guitars).
I love the Easter vigil. There is something so elemental, so primitive, so wonderful about gathering under a full moon after nightfall to light a fire according to an ancient ritual, walking silently into the darkened church, sharing the flame with our candles so the whole building is lighted with the glow of the new fire, reading ancient creation texts and singing 2500 year old songs before ringing bells and tossing water around to reconfirm our vows of baptismal commitment, finally culminating in the sacrificial meal at the heart of our faith.
What it all means is another thing altogether, for the vigil is not only more ancient than many of our other Holy Week ceremonies, but more elemental. The symbolism is less the symbol of “re-enactment” (like the, for eg. the foot washing or the Palm Sunday procession) and more on the level of fundamental realities: light and darkness, fire and water, bread and wine. I guess it is not a very rational way to spend two and a half hours on a Saturday night, but if we are approaching a mystery as great as that of the Resurrection, I can hardly imagine a more appropriately mysterious way of doing so.