The angel asks, ‘Why are you looking for the living among the dead?’
Holy Week is without question the busiest time of the year at All Saints: Stripping of the Altar on Maundy Thursday, Remembering the Cross on Good Friday, Easter Vigil on Saturday night, Easter Mass on Sunday morning. Even with its business, Easter Weekend is my favourite time of year in the church, especially the trinity of Easter services: Easter Vigil, the ecumenical sunrise service, and Easter mass.
Words cannot describe the beauty of Easter Vigil. Our church, small and intimate as it is, completely dark save for the seven lamps hanging over the altar. The church gathers outside for the blessing of the new fire, from which the Christ candle is lighted. The ministers and choir lead the procession back into the church, bringing light into the darkness. The entire service is candlelit: the congregation, choir, altar, and acolytes all light the church with candles lit from the Christ candle. We read passages from the Bible highlighting God’s redemption of Israel and the world. When the time comes — when we reach Jesus — when we sing the Gloria, the bells are rung, the bells which have been silent since Thursday. We read of the Resurrection, we renew our baptismal vows, we take Communion, we spill out into the night with exclamations of ‘Happy Easter’ and ‘He is risen!’ Ros, Allie, Christoph, and I troop home, linking arms and skipping, singing.
A few short hours later, the four of us are going into town again, joining the throngs making their way to the ruins of St Mary on the Rock, an ancient church on a cliff overlooking the sea. A few hundred gather there, singing hymns to welcome the sun, the resurrection of the Son, to the accompaniment of gentle waves and the cry of seagulls. The air is filled with laughter as we mingle after, finding our friends from other churches, greeting each other in the name of the Lord.
The four of us go back to Ros’s and my house for pancakes before going back in for Easter Mass. I skip and sing hymns, amusing and exasperating the others with the egg shaker Ros gave me last year (a compromise, since she wouldn’t give me a tambourine). Miss Kitty arrived and she and I play tag in the garden. We listen to Bach’s St John’s Passion before going back to church, they to sing and I to serve. This Easter featured a baptism and the 90th birthday of one our dear ladies in the church. Friends who had moved afar were back to visit. Ros and I left early to finish our preparations for Easter Lunch, a four-course vegetarian nearly-vegan meal for seven people.
(adapted from http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/4174/green-pea-and-tarragon-soup)
Roasted butternut squash with goat’s cheese
(adapted from http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3938/roasted-butternut-squash-with-goats-cheese)
Rhubarb crumble with rosemary and lemon
Tea and coffee; chocolate mints
The choir folks had to leave before the fourth course, to sing in Festal Evensong. I stayed with Jake and Chris A. and introduced them to cascarones (confetti eggs) before they set off to return to Cambridge, covered head to toe in confetti.
Needless to say, I collapsed at 5.30PM and slept until Monday morning.
How can I not love Easter in this town?
Happy Easter! Chris is risen! Alleluia!