Holy Week 2014--Easter Vigil

I don't want to be a jerk and demean other forms of Christianity, but I think non-liturgical churches are really missing out on something fundamental.  Without liturgy, you are left with various forms of talking--preaching and singing.  And talking means you are left with a religion of ideas.  The problem is, I don't think Christianity is religion of ideas.  At least not at it's heart.

Instead, I see Christianity as a religion of encounter.  Ultimately, it is a story of a transcendent creator reaching down to interact with His creation, which culminates in Jesus's life, death, and resurrection.  In turn, we are invited into that encounter.  Encounters can be described, but that description is going to be a pale substitute for being drawn into the encounter to experience it for yourself.

Liturgy is, or at least can be, the gateway to that encounter.  I find that when I am the most confused intellectually about my faith, experiencing liturgy is the route out of the morass.  It doesn't make the questions go away--it's not magic.  But it puts them in context, and reminds me that these things are worth slogging through, because there is something important and beautiful waiting on the other side.

The ultimate liturgy, and thus the ultimate vehicle for encounter, is the Easter Vigil.  Easter Vigil is a multi-sensory experience that draws you into the encounter--fire and water, darkness and light.  It travels along through a history of encounters between God and His people--the creation, the establishment of children of Abraham as a chosen people, the parting of the Red Sea.  It recounts the promises of the prophets.

And then, it culminates with the empty tomb.  Even the Gospel reading speaks of an encounter.  The angel tells Mary Magdelene "He (Jesus) is not here.  He has been raised.  Come and see the place where He laid."  Come and encounter the reality of the resurrection.  That's the power of liturgy.

Happy Easter, everyone.


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