April 3: The Great Vigil of Easter

The Rev. Joseph Peters-Mathews is the vicar of St. Hilda St. Patrick. For the Great Vigil of Easter, he read the Easter Sermon of St. John Chrysostom (d. 407) as translated for use at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, San Francisco, CA.

If there are devout and God-loving people here; welcome to this beautiful, radiant feast.
If there are any careful servants of God, come and rejoice with the Lord.
If anyone here is worn out from fasting, tonight you will get your fill.

If you’ve been working from the break of day, tonight you will be paid in full.
If anyone came to work in the morning, the thanksgiving meal is spread for you.
If any of you showed up in time for lunch, don’t worry, there is plenty for everyone.
If some of you could only manage to come in the afternoon, you haven’t lost out on anything.
If anyone came right before closing time, don’t give it a second thought, you’re right on time.

The Founder of the Feast is gracious; the last one in gets as much as the first.
The Lord is here to serve everyone the latecomers as well as the first comers.
God is compassionate with the last as well as the first; She gives freely to both.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve over achieved, or you’re just getting started.

God is gracious and welcomes every effort.
So, everybody – enter into the joy of our Lord: newcomers and old friends, share the bounty.
Rich folks and poor: everyone celebrates together.
Sober or shabby, God honors you both.
Those who fasted, and those who did not, rejoice today.

The table is full of rich foods; no one goes away hungry.
Everyone is welcome to the banquet of faith; God’s goodness is freely given to all.

Death tried to swallow him up, but it gagged on his life.
Prophet Isaiah saw this and proclaimed:
“Death was angered when it met you in the pit.”
It was angered because it was abolished.
It was angered because it was mocked.
It was angered because it was slain.
It was angered because it was chained up.
Death swallowed a body and choked on God.
Death invaded earth and came face-to-face with heaven.
Death relied on what was seen and fell by what is unseen.
O Death, where is your sting? O Grave, where is your victory?

Christ is risen and death is overthrown. Christ is risen and its tyranny is destroyed. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen and life is triumphant.
Christ is risen and the tombs are emptied. Christ has risen from the dead,
and become the first fruits of those that died. Glory and power to him forever and ever!

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