The Easter Vigil is historically the first service of Easter. In fact, Christian feast days generally begin at sunset on the previous day (best known in the example of Christmas Eve). For this reason, the duration of the Easter Triduum (“three days”) is from the evening of Maundy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday. The same principle applies to the Jewish reckoning of liturgical time, in which the sabbath begins at dusk and continues to nightfall of the following day. This is reflected in the priestly “refrain” of the Genesis 1 creation story: “and it was evening, and it was morning, the nth day.”
Good Friday is the day we remember Jesus’ crucifixion. The hours of noon to 3 p.m. are particularly significant as these commemorate the time Jesus hung on the cross. It is an especially important time to pray for the church and the world for whom Christ gave his life.
Maundy Thursday begins the Three Days (or Triduum), remembering the new commandment that Christ gave us in word and deed as he taught us how to love one another, washing our feet as a servant. We also celebrate the Lord’s Supper, remembering the meal Christ shared with his disciples before his death.
Historically, this was the traditional day in which those who had undergone a period of public penance under church discipline would be restored to full communion.
One of the first annual events of the Christian year, after the celebration of the resurrection on every Lord’s Day, was a commemoration of Christ’s dying and rising at Easter. Over the years, one day was split into three different rituals to remember the Last Supper and New Commandment (Maundy Thursday), the Crucifixion (Good Friday) and the struggle to make meaning of the cross in light of the whole of salvation history (the Great Vigil) — all culminating in Easter at day break.
What was originally one annual service remembering the Lord’s death and resurrection became split into separate services in order to pay closer attention to the significant details of Christ’s death and resurrection. These were considered to be part of one salvific activity of God and thus celebrated as such without a benediction until the end of the service with the Easter announcement that “Christ is risen!”
The Three Days or Triduum (Maundy Thursday at sundown through sundown of Easter) are the most solemn of the church year. The whole church’s participation is encouraged in this time of great significance for all who would be formed in the Christian faith, especially catechumens. The Great Vigil of Easter was the time set aside for the annual baptism of new Christians, coinciding with the eucharistic dawning of God’s reign in the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Green Hill Good News Online Edition for April 2018
We Used To Go To Church with Pat Sajak
by Rev. Dr. Timothy Oleksy
I’m writing this on Palm Sunday night, and thinking about Easter and about Pat Sajak too. When we were Californians, we used to go to church with Pat Sajak. In fact, Pat (without Vanna) was in attendance at all three of our sons’ baptisms. Sadly, I was not. My Mom was having by-pass surgery the Sunday that Tom was to be baptized. I was in Connecticut. But Pat was in church that day along with Laurie and Tom, with Tom’s brothers, much of Laurie’s family, and my brother and sister-in-law. They are Tom’s Godparents. We could have postponed it, but we didn’t. Baptism has to do with the child and with the Holy Spirit. It would have been nice to be there, but the two key figures, those being Tom and the Spirit; they were there.
Thirty two years later, Tom and Renee, (Mrs. Tom) are bringing their one year old daughter, Eleanor Grace Oleksy to Enterprise for her baptism. It will take place on Resurrection Sunday. As joyful as Easter has always been for me, this Easter may be the most joyful day of my life.
I am usually the officiant at weddings and funerals in our family. When I married Tom and Renee two years ago in Massachusetts, I had to obtain written permission from the Secretary of State of the Socialist State of Massachusetts to perform the ceremony. Had I been an internet minister instead of a degreed, credentialed, ordained, Presbyterian minister, this would not have been necessary. (That’s socialism for you!) But I never dreamed I would ever baptize a grandchild. My old friend George McCall was always baptizing grandchildren. The older I got, the more I envied George that holy privilege.
So on Easter Sunday, Ellie and the Holy Spirit will be there. Pat Sajak won’t be. (I suppose we could have invited him.) I hope you will be there. (Or were there, if this arrives afterword.) Come and share the joy, that divine emotion that comes with a reminder called Easter every year as Lent comes to an end. The reminder that this is not the end; that the tomb was empty, and that eternal life awaits.
And share the joy that I will know, the extra joy, as Eleanor Grace Oleksy, by the grace of God, is sealed as Christ’s own forever.
WEDNESDAY BIBLE STUDY
The Wednesday morning Bible Study is open to all members of the church. Everyone is welcome to join us at 8:00am in the Fellowship Hall as we study God’s Word. Bring your Bible, and feel free to bring your breakfast with you. This mid-week lesson is the perfect way to start off your morning.
BAPTISM & CONFIRMATION
During the month of April, Green Hill will be blessed as we take part in two very important events in two young Christian lives.
This month, Eleanor, the granddaughter of Rev. Dr. Tim & Laurie Oleksy, will be baptized during our morning worship service. We look forward to meeting the Oleksy family. After the service we will celebrate in the Fellowship Hall with cake.
This month, Grayson will be confirmed as a member of Green Hill Presbyterian Church. He has been working hard with Pastor Tim on special lessons about what it means to be a Christian and a Presbyterian. We can’t wait to officially welcome him into the Green Hill Family!
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL: June 25 to June 29
The Bible is filled with examples of God’s people shouting and cheering in response to His might acts of power. This summer we will invite our local children to do the same by remembering who God is, what He has done, and what He promises to do!
As a bit of a change this year, we are going to include our older children, our teens and tweens, in some leadership roles. VBS is not only for teaching young children about the Bible, it is also an opportunity for us to help mold the Christian leaders of tomorrow.
We have about three months to make this plan come together. Please pray for this VBS. God is going to use us to do amazing things at Green Hill this summer. If you feel called to serve in VBS this year, please contact Scott Smith.
Information for the May Green Hill Good Newsletter needs to be submitted to the church office by Monday, April 23. You can contact the office by email or by phone, or you can drop your news off in the basket on the door. Many thanks to those who contribute!
RECOGNITION OF OUR VETERANS
Each year in December, the national Wreaths Across America program places wreaths on the graves of Veterans all over the United States in honor and remembrance of their service to our country.
Here in the Wiregrass, the program is expanding to cover not only the major cemeteries, but many of the smaller ones as well. The American Legion and Civitan Club are trying to compile a master list of all Veterans buried in the area to make sure that every local Veteran is recognized in future ceremonies.
If you have a Veteran in your family who is buried locally, or if you know of a Veteran who is buried locally, please see Sandi in the church office. She has a clipboard for recording the names.
ONE GREAT HOUR OF SHARING
Since 1949 Presbyterians have joined with millions of other Christians through One Great Hour of Sharing to share God’s love with our neighbors-in-need around the world. Your generous gifts to this Special Offering help provide relief those affected by natural disasters, provide food to the hungry, and assist in helping to empower the poor and oppressed. If you feel called to give, please use one of the special blue envelopes can be found in the pew racks. The final day this offering will be collected for 2018 will be Sunday, April 8.
CHICK-FIL-A 5K & 1 MILE FUN RUN
The 3rd Annual Mitchell Automotive Chick-fil-A 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run will be held Saturday, April 7th at Enterprise High School. So find your fanciest Cow running attire, and help us raise money for the WinShape Camp held each July at Enterprise High School. Last year, 500 children attended this premier day camp experience, and the vast majority of campers received some amount of scholarship assistance. The goal is to enroll as many kids in this camp as want to attend, and thank you for supporting this race and the children and families in our community. Visit http://www.itsyourrace.com for more information.
GIRL SCOUT SUNDAY
The Girl Scouts would like to thank Green Hill for hosting Girl Scout Sunday last month. It means a lot to us that you took the time to recognize us, and to feed us cake! Girl Scout Sunday is a time for girls to reflect on the words “to serve God” in the Girl Scout Promise. Thank you for helping us to do that.
Kendall, Makayla, Emma, Sandi, Pat & the Girl Scouts of Service Unit 923
PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN SPRING GATHERING
The Presbyterian Women Spring Gathering for 2018 is being held at Evergreen Presbyterian Church in Dothan on April 14, 2018. Check-In begins at 9:30am. The program and service will begin at 10:00am. Attendees can choose to take two of three workshops: Welcoming God’s Presence (led by Dee Koza), Being God’s Presence (led by Betty Bierbaum), and/or God’s Artful Presence (led by Rev. Dr. Lynn Miller).
Registration forms are available in the Green Hill church office. The fee to attend is $12.50 if the form is submitted prior to April 4. After April 4 the fee increases to $17.50.