Holy Saturday / The Great Vigil of Easter
And they ate and drank before the LORD on that day with great joy.
Family gatherings on my Father’s side of the family were often raucous. They involved great food and not a little akvavit. We toasted. We sang. We told stories. We laughed. There is even one dinner that ended in an hilarious softball game and another that had my grandmother wrestling on the floor with my young cousins. On Christmas eve we danced around the tree.
Family gatherings on my mother’s side, while not so raucous, were also always full of joy.
Joy and food belong together.
Joy brings out food. Food brings out joy. They belong together.
The passage above speaks of the feast that followed the enthronement of Solomon as king. Sacrifices were offered and the food of the sacrifices was shared with the whole city. “They ate and drank before the Lord on that day with great joy.”
For all of the depth and breadth of our experience of holy communion, the experience of grace, the encounter with the divine, the presence of the holy, the delight of the ordinary, the solemn remembrance of a body broken and blood shed – for all the breath and depth of our experience of Holy Communion, we cannot forget joy. This bread and wine is full of promise. It is a foretaste of the feast to come. It is the joy of the eternal wedding banquet. It is the joining of the heavens and the earth. It is Easter dawn. It is the new birth of the world.
We should dance. We should sing. We should leave worship twirling with arms wide and faces lifted to the sky. The heart of God is revealed and it is full of love and faithfulness. Christ is risen. Death cannot hold. Heaven’s doors are thrown wide open.
There was an elderly Norwegian woman who attended the parish I served in the city of Detroit. Her English was still broken. We used a pouring chalice in that place, and when I filled her little glass she would look me in the eye, raise her glass, and nod as if making a toast. I like to think she understood that this is the family feast – and it is full of joy.
Almighty God, creator and redeemer of the world,
before whom the grave lies shattered
and the gates of hell torn down;
Grant us joy in the message that Christ is risen,
and faithfulness to live our lives in him for the sake of the world
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Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anak-anak_riang_bermain_air_(28236060041).gif USAID Indonesia [Public domain]