by Elizabeth Berg

Growing up I loved Lent and the days of Holy Week leading up to Easter. As a teenager I loved the reflection on the life of Jesus; his struggles as he watched his dear friends mourn over the death of their brother, his sorrow as he experienced people turning away and leaving him to face hardships alone, and I am pretty sure I actually could feel his heart-break as he plead to his Father for there to be another way.  It was easy for me to see the sorrow and the heartache and the pain, especially amidst the world around me and the sin in myself and others.

The transition to Easter and its pure joy, in contrast, seemed more reserved. While I looked at creation and saw tulips sprouting and people with their talents, I also knew flowers would wither and that there was still sin in us all.  It was nearly impossible for me to envision the pure, perfect joy that the Resurrection and Easter offered.  I longed to experience Easter as a masterful creation with musical crescendos and trumpet calls so brilliant that your heart could burst as everyone surrounding you laughed out in pure joy.

I got a glimpse of that pure joy was while attending an Easter Vigil at Church of the Cross for the first time several years ago.  The Vigil contained the comprehensive biblical story from Creation to Ezekiel to Good Friday to the Resurrection and to us as we celebrated together with music, the communion meal, and in the cleansing of baptisms. It was the Old Testament story, it was the Jesus story and it was our current story, and most importantly it was the story of God’s people and his great love for them all.

Anika Lang (age 8) drew this wonderful picture to show why Easter Vigil matters to her. (Click to enlarge.)

For those of you who easily enter into the Lenten season, Easter Vigil is necessary as it reminds us of the hope we have in Christ Jesus, our risen Lord. It is a time to transition our focus away from sin and hardship and to re-focus on our hope for the life to come, through the lens of pure joy which is the resurrection of our one true God.

Please come and bask in the joy that Easter Vigil service offers and invite others who want to see the connection of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and our joy today as we hope in the life to come.