Easter Vigil

We wanted tonight to be a little different. There will be fewer elements but there will be more time to meditate on the text with both discussion and silence. 

The flow will go straight from creating your sacred space directly into the text. Then into discussion, meditation, and prayer. Our intention is that the silence during this time unites us with the death of Jesus. We will therefore end tonight in silence. Please show love during your “tuck-in” time but see if you can do so, silently. Staying in the discomfort of the silence helps us to feel the excitement and joy of Easter. 

Allow the feelings that may come during this time. Difficult feelings such as pain, hurt, anger, and sadness are a part of being human. An amazing skill to learn is the ability to sit in those feelings, acknowledge those feelings, and respond to those feelings in ways that are helpful. In addition, the ability to allow those we love to sit in those difficult emotions while supporting and loving them without “fixing”, helps us to teach others the skill of being able to feel our feelings.

Please see Richard Rohr’s post, this morning, regarding the outpouring of love that is central to Good Friday and our need to “gaze at the cross” as a means to “soften our hearts”. This is why we share tonight’s practice.

Leave all screens turned off and outside of the gathering space/room.
Set a single candle in the center of your space or on a child’s nightstand or headboard.

As you light the candle, you might sing or say the excerpt from the following hymn, “Were you There”1

Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

This is a time to become fully present with one another and with God.
Invite everyone to take a deep breath in and exhale fully.
Repeat this deep breathing for about 20 seconds, everyone at their own pace.

Readings can be shared around the circle by verse, or a single reader can lead.

A reading from Matthew 27:57-61

57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

From your devotional basket, please take the following items:
~Notebook or binder for everyone
~Drawing or coloring utensil(s) for everyone

Be sure notebooks/binders and utensils are handy but not a distraction.
You might invite the group into prayer with these or similar prompts:

I invite everyone to find a comfortable posture appropriate to prayer and encourage everyone to close their eyes.

Allow a few beats for the movement to settle down.

Let’s all take a few deep breaths to settle our minds:
~let go of the discussion questions and conversation;
~let go of the Bible story;
~let yourself rest for a moment in the love of your family and the presence of

After a few deep breaths, share the following:

Jesus died and was laid in a tomb. What comes to your mind when you think about a tomb? 

What goes in a tomb? 

How does it feel to your body? What does it look like? What emotion do you have?

Pause for one minute

Turn to an empty page in your notebook. Sit for a moment to notice the emptiness of the page.

When you feel comfortable, draw a large circle.


This circle is a tomb.

This circle is your tomb. How do you feel entombed, right now? What emotions or sensations are in this tomb with you?
Is there:
~being alone or in isolation
~feeling or being trapped


Look at the circle you just drew.

Consider - and to the best of your ability, name - how it feels to be in a tomb.

Draw or write some of these things in the circle. 

Pause for a couple of minutes. 

Look at the words or pictures you drew. 

Jesus came to us as a vulnerable baby, joined us in our joys and pains of life, and died a human death.

Jesus was laid in a tomb.

Jesus knows the things that entomb us. Jesus knows our pain and sadness. 

Tonight, we unite with Jesus in the pain of the cross and the cold isolation of the tomb. Or rather, Jesus unites with us in our pain, fear, anxiety and loneliness. Rest for a few moments in these feelings. Let them be real and powerful. Knowing, naming and moving through the difficult feelings of the tomb is the only way to move toward the real New Life Jesus promises.

Pause for as long as is appropriate for those in the room.

At the end of your silent time, invite attention back to the room with words like these:

I invite you to return your awareness to this place.
You might wiggle your toes and fingers or gently roll your shoulders or your head.
Slowly bring your body and mind back to here and now, and rest for a moment.

Resting is important: the transition from silence to immediate action or thought can be very jarring. Let the movement from rest to engagement be gentle.

After a few beats, while people are still transitioning, introduce the reflection questions, as follows:

As we bring our awareness back to here and now, let’s consider how God was with us 
in this time. 
Reflect on a thought or feeling that seemed powerful or meaningful to you.
Where or in what way did you experience God in this time?

Allow a moment or two of rest and thought. 

Once everyone is ready, hold hands in a circle and invite everyone in the room to share one or two words that are sticking tonight. End this time with a statement of gratitude.

As the following song is sung, the Leader should gather all materials utilized during the practice. Stow them in the basket for easy removal and future use.

As adults prepare to leave the room, you might say or sing this excerpt from O Sacred Head Now Wounded

Were You There
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Exit in silence, content to linger in challenging emotions for one more night...

Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Augsburg Fortress; 2006: #353.

THE HOLY BIBLE, (NRSV) New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Found on Biblegateway.com  accessed 04.07.20.


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