Believe it or not, Easter is upon us yet again. A year ago, none of us would have expected that we would spend two Easters apart from each other, unable to gather in person as a community celebrating our risen Lord. Unfortunately, we will have to continue lamenting that we cannot gather just yet. But, we are excited to invite you to our Easter Vigil this year. Even in a time when we can’t come together all at one time, it brings us great joy to invite you back into the sanctuary and onto the church grounds for just a little bit.
If you aren’t familiar with the Easter Vigil, it is a service of readings that occurs on the evening before Easter. The readings go from the story of creation in Genesis up to the resurrection of Christ in the gospels. Historically, the vigil is a service of baptism for new members of the church, and it ends with the good news of resurrection at midnight, marking that Easter morning has arrived.
This year, our Easter Vigil will be a self-guided walkthrough of the sanctuary and parts of the church campus. The walkthrough will begin with the lighting of the Christ candle, go through the vigil readings from creation to the resurrection, and end with communion and the flower cross. While we all wish that things would be different this Easter, this is our best and safest way to let folks back in the sacred space we all love, experiencing its beauty and hearing the organ in person once again.
So that you will know what to expect, here are the nuts and bolts of what the vigil will look like:
- Folks will sign up for the vigil online in five-minute increments. Each slot is for either an individual or a family group that lives in the same household. There will be designated times to sign up by phone, which will be announced in worship. Sign up online now or by phone 9-11 am on March 24 & March 31, 336-478-4711. (Do not leave a message; you must talk with someone.)
- We ask that you arrive about 5-10 minutes early for your time. You will be asked to complete our COVID self-certify checklist, wear a mask, use hand sanitizer, maintain social distancing, and have your temperature checked.
- We will offer times on Saturday, April 3, from 2:30 to 4:30 pm and 6:30 to 8:30 pm and on Sunday, April 4, from 8 to 10 am. If needed, we will add extra times before 2:30 and after 8:30 on Saturday.
- The vigil will be set up in eight stations around the sanctuary and the grounds. Each station will have scripture readings, meditations, prayers, and/or activities. Each station will take less than five minutes. We expect that the whole walk through will take half an hour or less. We will ask you to please not move to the next station until the next one is vacated.
- The first station and the entrance to the vigil will be at the Greene Street door of the sanctuary. It will be the lighting of the Christ candle, which traditionally marks the beginning of the vigil.
- Stations two through five will follow the perimeter of the sanctuary and go through the service of readings. Station six will be in the tower room.
- Station seven will be communion, presided over by pastors, outside in the columbarium. We will serve the small communion packets that we have been using throughout the pandemic, accompanied by the words of institution and a prayer.
- Station eight will be the flower cross, one of our favorite traditions at FPC. Feel free to bring flowers from your garden, but we will also have some flowers provided. There will also be time outside of the vigil to leave flowers and take pictures at the flower cross.
- Throughout the vigil, John Alexander will be playing the organ. We are so excited that everyone will get to hear it in person again. We are sorry, though, that it will not be possible for folks to sit and listen for an extended time in the sanctuary. Unfortunately, this is something that we will have to continue to lament, as we long for the day when we can safely sit next to each other again in the pews.
- If attending the vigil is not a possibility for you because of health risks or mobility issues, you can access a virtual vigil online.
We hope that this will be a worshipful and meaningful time for everyone who is able to attend. We encourage families to go through the vigil together. If you have little ones, please bring them along and invite them to go through the story of God’s unfolding love alongside you. The vigil will look and feel like a “grownup” worship service, but even our youngest participants will be able to enjoy the artwork and music and learn our sacred story.
Even though we wish that we could all be back together by now, we hope that you will attend and enjoy the Easter Vigil. We are so excited to be able to open the sanctuary in this way and see the faces of the people we love. We will continue to hold each other in prayer until we are finally back together again.
With grace, peace, and love,
The FPC Staff