March 31, 2024, 6:45 AM

The Service of Light

Dear friends in Christ: On this most holy night, in which our Lord Jesus passed over from death to life, the Church invites her members, dispersed throughout the world, to gather in vigil and prayer. For this is the Passover of the Savior, in which, by hearing his Word and celebrating his Sacraments, we share in his victory over death.

Let us pray.

O God, through your Son you have bestowed upon your people the brightness of your light: Sanctify this new fire, and grant that in this Paschal feast we may so burn with heavenly desires, that with pure minds we may attain to the festival of everlasting light; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The light of Christ.
Thanks be to God.

The Exsultet

Rejoice now, heavenly hosts and choirs of angels, and let your trumpets shout Salvation for the victory of our mighty King. Rejoice and sing now, all the round earth, bright with a glorious splendor, for darkness has been vanquished by our eternal King. Rejoice and be glad now, Mother Church, and let your holy courts, in radiant light, resound with the praises of your people.

All you who stand near this marvelous and holy flame, pray with me to God the Almighty, for the grace to sing the worthy praise of this great light; through Jesus Christ his Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right and good, always and everywhere, with our whole heart and mind and voice, to praise you, the invisible, almighty, and eternal God, and your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who at the feast of the Passover paid for us the debt of Adam’s sin, and by his blood delivered your faithful people. This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red Sea on dry land.

This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life. This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell,  and rose victorious from the grave. How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving-kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son. How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord. How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and man is reconciled to God.

Holy Father, accept our evening sacrifice, the offering of this candle in your honor. May it shine continually to drive away all darkness. May Christ, the Morning Star who knows no setting, find it ever burning–he who gives his light to all creation, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

The Service of the Word

Let us hear the record of God’s saving deeds in history, how he saved his people in ages past; and let us pray that our God will bring each of us to the fullness of redemption.

The story of Creation: Genesis 1:1–2:2

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. But the earth became chaos and emptiness, and darkness came over the face of the Deep—yet the Spirit of God was brooding over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light!” and light was. God saw that light was good, and God separated light from darkness. God called the light “Day” and the darkness “Night.” Evening came, and morning followed—the first day. 

Then God said, “Now, make an expanse between the waters! Separate water from water! So it was: God made the expanse and separated the water above the expanse from the water below it. God called the expanse “Sky.” Evening came, and morning followed—the second day. 

Then God said, “Waters under the sky: be gathered into one place! Dry ground: appear!” So it was. God called the dry ground “Earth” and the gathering of the waters “Sea.” And God saw that this was good. Then God said, “Earth: produce vegetation—plants that scatter their own seeds, and every kind of fruit tree that bears fruit with its own seed in it!” So it was: the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed, and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. And God saw that this was good. Evening came, and morning followed—the third day. 

Then God said, “Now, let there be lights in the expanse of the sky! Separate day from night! Let them mark the signs and seasons, days and years, and serve as luminaries in the sky, shedding light on the earth.” So it was: God made the two great lights, the greater one to illumine the day, and a lesser to illumine the night. Then God made the stars as well, placing them in the expanse of the sky, to shed light on the earth, to govern both day and night, and separate light from darkness. And God saw that this was good. Evening came, and morning followed—the fourth day. 

God then said, “Waters: swarm with an abundance of living beings! Birds: fly above the earth in the open expanse of the sky!” And so it was: God created great sea monsters and all sorts of swimming creatures with which the waters are filled, and all kinds of birds. God saw that this was good and blessed them, saying, “Bear fruit, increase your numbers, and fill the waters of the seas! Birds, abound on the earth!” Evening came, and morning followed—the fifth day. 

Then God said, “Earth: bring forth all kinds of living soul—cattle, things that crawl, and wild animals of all kinds!” So it was: God made all kinds of wild animals, and cattle, and everything that crawls on the ground, and God saw that this was good. Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, to be like us. Let them be stewards of the fish in the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, the wild animals, and everything that crawls on the ground.” Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them; female and male, God made them. God blessed them and said, “Bear fruit, increase your numbers, and fill the earth—and be responsible for it! Watch over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things on the earth!” God then told them, “Look! I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the earth, and every tree whose fruit carries its seed inside itself: they will be your food; and to all the animals of the earth and the birds of the air and things that crawl on the ground—everything that has a living soul in it—I give all the green plants for food.” So it was. God looked at all of this creation, and proclaimed that this was good—very good. Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day. 

Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed. On the seventh day God had finished all the work of creation, and so, on that seventh day, God rested. God blessed the seventh day and called it sacred, because on it God rested from all the work of creation.

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

Hymn #385 (Hymnal 1982)

The Collect

Let us pray.

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Israel’s deliverance at the Red Sea: Exodus 14:10-15:1

As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back and saw the Egyptians pursuing them, and cried out in terror to God. They turned on Moses, asking, “Were there no graves in Egypt that you must lead us out to die in the desert? What have you done to us? Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Didn’t we tell you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone. Let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better to work for the Egyptians than to die here in the desert!” 

But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory that our God will win for you today. Though you see Egypt today, you will never see it again. God will do the fighting for you; you have only to keep still!” 

Then God said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to march on. And you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea, and split the sea in two, that the Israelites may pass through it on dry land. I will make the hearts of the Egyptians so stubborn that they will come in after you, and I will glorify myself at the expense of Pharaoh and all the army, chariots and charioteers. The Egyptians will know that I am the Ground of All Being, when I glorify myself over Pharaoh and his chariots and charioteers.” 

Then the angel of God, who was leading the Israelites, moved to their rear—the pillar of cloud left the front of their number and took up position behind them, between the Israelites and the Egyptians. All during the night the cloud provided light to one side and darkness to the other side, so that there was no contact between them. Then Moses stretched his hand over the sea, and God swept the sea with a strong east wind throughout the night and so turned it into dry land. When the water was thus divided, the Israelites marched into the midst of the sea on dry land, with the water walled up on their right and on their left. The Egyptians followed in pursuit; all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and charioteers went after them into the midst of the sea. At dawn, God looked down upon the Egyptian forces from the column of fiery cloud, and threw the army into confusion and panic, clogging their chariot wheels so that they could hardly turn. The Egyptians turned to flee from the Israelites, saying ”Their God fights for them against us!” 

Then God told Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, and let the water flow back upon the Egyptians, over their chariots and their charioteers.” So at sunrise, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the waters rolled back in. As the Egyptians fled, God hurled them into its midst. As the water flowed back, covering the chariots and the charioteers—Pharaoh’s whole army, who had followed the Israelites into the sea—not one of them survived. But the Israelites passed through, walking dry-shod in the sea, with the water like a wall, on their right and on their left. 

Thus God saved Israel on that day from the power of Egypt. When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore and beheld the great power that God had shown against them, the people held God in awe; and put their faith in God and in Moses, God’s trusted servant. Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to God: “To you, O God, I sing: you have triumphed powerfully; horse and charioteer you have flung into the sea!”

Hymn #143, v. 1-2 (LEVAS)

The Collect

Let us pray.

O God, whose wonderful deeds of old shine forth even to our own day, you once delivered by the power of your mighty arm your chosen people from slavery under Pharaoh, to be a sign for us of the salvation of all nations by the water of Baptism: Grant that all the peoples of the earth may be numbered among the offspring of Abraham, and rejoice in the inheritance of Israel; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God’s Presence in a renewed Israel: Isaiah 4:2-6

In that Day, the Branch of God will be beautiful and glorious and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and grandeur of Israel’s survivors. Those who are left in Zion and remain in Jerusalem will be called holy, chosen for survival in Jerusalem. When God washes away the filth of Jerusalem’s people and cleanses Jerusalem of its bloodshed by a wind of judgment, a wind of destruction, God will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and on those assembled there a cloud of smoke by day and a bright flame of fire by night. And the glory of God will be an awning over all, a tent to give daily shade from the heat, a refuge and cover from the storm and the rain.

Hymn #157 (VF)

The Collect

Let us pray.

O God, you led your ancient people by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night: Grant that we, who serve you now on earth, may come to the joy of that heavenly Jerusalem, where all tears are wiped away and where your saints for ever sing your praise; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

A New Heart & A New Spirit: Ezekiel 36:24-28 

God says: “For I will bring you back from the nations, and gather you from every land, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle pure water over you, and you will be purified from everything that defiles you. I will purify you from the taint of all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you and make you conform to my statutes. And you will faithfully observe my laws. Then you will dwell in the land I gave to your ancestors. You will be my people and I will be your God.

Hymn #620 (Hymnal 1982)

The Collect

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who are reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

The Easter Acclamation

Alleluia. Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Gloria in excelsis

A Reading from Romans

Don’t you know that when we were baptized into Christ Jesus, we were baptized into Christ’s death? We’ve been buried with Jesus through baptism, and we joined with Jesus in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by God’s glory, we too might live a new life. For if we have been united with Christ in the likeness of Christ’s death, we will also be united with Christ in the likeness of Christ’s resurrection. We must realize that our former selves have been crucified with Christ to make the body of sin and failure completely powerless, to free us from slavery to sin: for when people die, they have finished with sin. But we believe that, having died with Christ, we will also live with Christ—knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will never die again: death is now powerless over our Savior. When Christ died, Christ died to sin, once for all, so that the life Christ lives is now life in God. In this way, you too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin—but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 

Hear what the spirit is saying to God’s people.
Thanks be to God.

Gospel Hymn #204 (Hymnal 1982)

The Gospel

The Holy Gospel of Our Savior Jesus Christ According to Matthew

Glory to you, O Christ.

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary of Magdala came with Mary to inspect the tomb. Suddenly, there was a severe earthquake, and an angel of God descended from heaven, rolled back the stone, and sat on it. The angel’s appearance was like lightning, with garments white as snow. The guards shook with fear and fell down as though they were dead. 

Then the angel spoke, addressing the women: “Don’t be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus the crucified, who is no longer here. Jesus has been raised, exactly as it was foretold. Come and see the burial place. Then go quickly and tell the disciples that Jesus has risen from the dead and now goes ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Jesus there. That is the message I have for you.” 

The women hurried away from the tomb with awe and great joy and ran to carry the good news to the disciples. Suddenly Jesus stood before them and said, “Shalom!” The women came up, embraced Jesus’ feet and worshiped. At this, Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell the disciples to go to Galilee, where they will see me.” 

The Gospel of Our Savior.
Praise to you, O Christ. 

The people sit for the Homily.

The Homily

The Renewal of Baptismal Vows

Through the Paschal mystery, dear friends, we are buried with Christ by Baptism into his death, and raised with him to newness of life. I call upon you, therefore, now that our Lenten observance is ended, to renew the solemn promises and vows of Holy Baptism, by which we once renounced Satan and all his works, and promised to serve God faithfully in his holy Catholic Church.

Do you reaffirm your renunciation of evil and renew your commitment to Jesus Christ?

I do.

Do you believe in God the Father?

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?

I will, with God’s help.

Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

I will, with God’s help.

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?

I will, with God’s help.

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

I will, with God’s help.

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

I will, with God’s help.

May Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and bestowed upon us the forgiveness of sins, keep us in eternal life by his grace, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. 

The Prayers of the People

Resurrecting God, we pray for your holy Catholic Church; 

That we all may be one. 

Grant that every member of the Church may truly and humbly serve you;
That your Name may be glorified by all people. 

We pray for all bishops, priests, and deacons; 

That they may be faithful ministers of your Word and Sacraments. 

We pray for all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the world;
That there may be justice and peace on the earth. 

Give us grace to do your will in all that we undertake; 

That our works may find favor in your sight. 

Have compassion on those who suffer from any grief or trouble;
That they may be delivered from their distress. 

Give to the departed eternal rest; 

Let light perpetual shine upon them. 

We praise you for your saints who have entered into joy; 

May we also come to share in your heavenly kingdom. 

Let us pray for our own needs and those of others. 

Celebrant: O Lord our God, accept the fervent prayers of your people; in the multitude of your mercies, look with compassion upon us and all who turn to you for help; for you are gracious, O lover of souls, and to you we give glory, One Holy and Undivided Trinity, now and for ever. Amen. 

The Peace

The peace of God be with you.
And also with you.

Offertory Hymn #199 (Hymnal 1982)

Doxology

Praise God from whom all blessing flow,
Praise God all creatures here below,
Praise God above, ye heavenly hosts,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

The Holy Eucharist

God be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise. 

But chiefly are we bound to praise you for the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who was sacrificed for us, and has taken away the sin of the world. By Christ’s death he has destroyed death, and by Christ’s rising to life again he has won for us everlasting life. Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who for ever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:

Holy and gracious God: In your infinite love you made us for yourself; and, when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and maker of all. Jesus stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself, in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole world. 

On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our Savior Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

After supper Jesus took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.” 

Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, Almighty God, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.

Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in Christ. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom.

All this we ask through Jesus Christ our Savior. By Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty God, now and for ever. Amen.

Now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen

The Breaking of the Bread

Alleluia! Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;

Therefore let us keep the feast. Alleluia!

Fraction Anthem

The Gifts of God for the People of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.

Communion Hymn #178 (Hymnal 1982)

Postcommunion Prayer

Eternal God, you have graciously accepted us as living members of our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Savior. Amen. 

Blessing

May God, who has brought us out of bondage to sin into true and lasting freedom in the Redeemer, bring you to your eternal inheritance. And the blessing of the one holy and undivided Trinity be upon you and remain with you forever. Amen. 

Closing Hymn #213, Come away to the skies

Dismissal

Alleluia! Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!

Postlude