All welcome to breakfast after the 6am Easter Vigil!
The first service of Easter Day begins with darkness and includes the singing of the Exsultet, or Song of Praise, over the year’s Easter Candle, the passing of the Light of Easter, scripture, silence, Holy Baptism and the first Eucharist of Easter! Please remember to bring your bells to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord! Childcare is not provided at the Vigil.
“I got me flowers to straw Thy way; I got me boughs off many a tree:
But Thou wast up by break of day, and brought’st Thy sweets along with Thee….”
So writes George Herbert in his 17th century poem “Easter”, and so have I long thought of what it is like to journey toward our church in the cold darkness of pre-dawn on Easter morning, looking forward to the Easter Vigil worship. Like the women who journeyed to the tomb on that first Easter morning, longing to do something for Jesus, we find, as we arrive, that he is there before us, greeting us with his deep love and empowering us to worship him.
The Easter Vigil service is probably the most ancient of the services celebrated during Holy Week – traces of it are found as early as the 2nd century. While many churches celebrate it on Saturday night, others, like Ascension, have a tradition of holding their Vigil services beginning before sunrise. Just as all of Lent has been a journey from ashes to alleluias, so is the Easter Vigil a mini-journey from tomb to garden, from darkness to light, from the Fall to the Resurrection and new life through baptism. It is also a “short watch”: in a Maundy Thursday gospel reading we heard Jesus ask his disciples “could you not watch with me one hour?” – and so now we keep Vigil, sitting in the darkness, waiting for the lighting of the Easter Candle, waiting for the dawn, waiting for the first Eucharist of Easter.
So we arrive in a very dimly lit, almost dark church and sit for a bit in the darkness, remembering the darkness we encountered on Maundy Thursday when all light was extinguished in a bare, stripped down room. And then the Easter Candle is lit at the back of the church! Amazing how the single light – representing the light of Christ, can bring light into a dark place! As the procession moves slowly down the aisle to the front, the Celebrant chants “The Light of Christ” and we respond “Thanks be to God” and what I call “the dance of light” begins as torch bearers light the candles of the congregation, crisscrossing back and forth, revealing more and more of Christ’s Body as the candle light fills the room.
When the procession arrives at the front the Celebrant sings one of the Church’s most ancient chants, the Exsultet, originating possibly as early as the 5th century. With glorious poetry, it speaks of the “holiness of this night” when earth and heaven are joined and we are reconciled to God – when, to redeem a slave, God gave a son.
From this singing we move into hearing the story of our Redemption with readings about the Fall, the crossing of Israel over the Red Sea and the defeat of the Egyptian army and other parts of our Story. And we sing songs in the darkness and pray short prayers, and while all this is happening the sun is rising, ever so slowly filling the room with God’s light.
Then baptisms are performed and we all renew our baptismal vows – and then there is a hush in the candle-lit darkness ‘till the celebrant cries “Alleluia! Christ is risen” and as we shout “The Lord is risen indeed”! all the lights in the church come on and bells are rung and we sing our way into the first Eucharist of Easter.
“You have turned my wailing into dancing; you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.
Therefore, my heart sings to you without ceasing; O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.”
This will be Canon Jonathan Millard’s last Sunday with us until he returns from his sabbatical leave in mid-August. Please join Jonathan and his wife Andrea for lunch in the New Catacombs following the 11am service. They will speak for about 30 minutes on their plans and hopes for this sabbatical leave. All are welcome. Lunch is by donation.
Join Canon Jonathan Millard for a training on how to become a Lay Eucharistic Minister (LEM). LEMs take communion to those who are in the hospital, in nursing homes or perhaps at home for extended times. We would love to have more folks on this team. If you are already an LEM and want a refresher, you are welcome as well. For more information, please email email@example.com.
Do you have any of these concerns about your finances?
- The balances on the credit cards are growing
- Student loan debt feels crippling
- Every time you start to get some traction with the finances, an emergency comes along and knocks you down again
- You know you should be saving for your kids’ education, but you don’t know how to get started
- You want to plan for the future, but you never seem to have any money left when all the bills are paid
- You feel that you aren’t free to do the things that God has planned for you because you are weighed down by money problems
Ascension will offer Financial Peace University (FPU) beginning this April. FPU is a course that provides tremendous help and guidance with household finances. Those who have taken the course have come to understand budgeting, saving, insurance, mortgages, retirement, college planning, investing, giving and other practical financial matters with excellent results. Some members of our own congregation have dug out of significant and debilitating debt by practicing the principles taught in the course.
Course facilitators: Kelsey and Aaron Sams
Course dates: Eight sessions on Friday evenings from April 6 through May 25
Time: 6:30 to 9pm
Childcare: Childcare will be provided for Infants through 5th grade
Registration: Please sign up by March 25th at www.ascensionpittsburgh.org.
Course Fee: No payment is required, however the recommended donation is $100 to cover the cost of the course kit (one kit needed per household).
Marriage is hard and we need each other. This course, which will run for 7 weeks, is an opportunity to press into the challenges of our marriages together, and grow in learning how to love well.
Designed by Milan and Kay Yerkovich, How We Love looks at marital patterns through the lenses of Attachment Theory, a theory that suggests that our relational styles are formed (for good or for ill) through our early life experiences. This course looks at how these styles impact our marriages, and offers insights and practices to help shift unhealthy patterns and grow in intimacy.
As the Yerkovich’s put it: “For 14 years, our marriage was stuck in the same old frustrating patterns. When we looked at our first lessons in love from our families, we immediately recognized the unseen forces governing how we loved. For the first time, we understood the source of our frustrations and why we were stuck. Deep change was possible at last. The insight we offer comes from making many mistakes, and years of praying for wisdom. Our prayer is that soon you will discover what we have—the relief that comes from resolution, deep understanding and comfort.” –Milan and Kay Yerkovich
Course facilitators: Jim and Mari Stout
Course dates: Friday evenings from April 6 through May 25 (will not meet on May 18).
Time: 6:30 to 9pm
Childcare: Childcare will be provided for Infants through 5th grade
Registration: Please sign up by March 25th at www.ascensionpittsburgh.org. Due to the nature of the material, this course will be limited to 20 couples, on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Course Fee: No payment is required, however the recommended donation is $10 to cover the cost of the course kit (one kit needed per household).
The ‘Explore Anglicanism’ course will run for five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 11 from 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., and each session will be led by a member of our clergy at Ascension, Bishop Grant LeMarquand (our Priest-in-Charge while Canon Jonathan is away on Sabbatical), and our co-Associate Rectors Tish and Jonathan Warren. Childcare will be provided each evening of the course.
Bishop Hobby will join us on Ascension Sunday, May 13 in order to celebrate confirmations at both the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services. If you are interested in being confirmed, we would ask that you make every effort to attend all of the course sessions. Each of the individual sessions are, however, open to all who are interested in a deeper look at Ascension or at Anglicanism more generally. The course sessions are as follow. Those being confirmed should plan on attending all 5. Others are welcome to attend classes of particular interest.
April 11: Understanding Anglicanism (Part 1): The History of Anglicanism
We’ll begin with a crash course in Anglican history from the founding of the early church through the creation of the Anglican Church in North America.
April 18: Understanding Anglicanism (Part 2): Theology and Liturgy of Anglicanism
This class will take a dive into the Anglican Prayer Book as well as the Sacraments. The class will include an Instructed Eucharist – a guided walk through the different aspects of our weekly communion service.
April 25: Understanding Ascension: The Local Church and You!
This class will look at the distinctives of Church of the Ascension, its ministries and staff. It will include a teaching on the Spiritual Gifts and any who want to will be invited to complete a Spiritual Gifts Inventory. An opportunity to meet one on one with a member of our clergy to discuss the results of the Inventory will be offered.
May 2: Understanding Spiritual Practices: How to Grow in Christ
This class will explore topics including a Rule of Life; Spiritual Exercises: Lectio Divina, Examen, Contemplative Prayer; Community Groups; Spiritual Direction and Mentoring.
May 9: Understanding the Commitments of Confirmation and Membership
This class will look at the specific commitments being made in both confirmation and membership. A tour of the Nave will be offered and there will be an open forum to ask a priest any question that is on your mind.
Join Clergy and Staff for an informal dinner on Sunday, March 18th from 5 – 7pm. We’ll meet at the Common Room of the Summerset at Frick Park Community Center located at 1425 Parkview Boulevard (15217). This is in Squirrel Hill, about 12 minutes from the church. Bring the kids! It’s an informal time to get to know one another better. We would love to know you plan to come. You can sign up online or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please join us to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
6am The Great Vigil of Easter
The first service of Easter Day begins with darkness and includes the singing of the Exsultet, or Song of Praise, over the year’s Easter Candle, the passing of the Light of Easter, scripture, silence and Holy Baptism. Please remember to bring your bells to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord! Childcare is not provided at the vigil.
9am and 11am Services
Our 9am and 11am worship will be much the same, but with songs, hymns and anthems to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord on Easter Day! Please remember to bring your bells! There will be children’s ministry available for children ages 4 and under in rooms 101 and 102. Children ages five and older will remain in the service with their families.
Easter Egg Hunt
We will have an Easter Egg Hunt in the Hunt Rooms and Courtyard following both services on Easter Sunday. Please join us and bring baskets!
Weekly devotional resource is available here.
Sermon questions are available here.
Good Friday at Ascension
Because these are the hours Jesus hung on the cross, we encourage worshippers to keep vigil for the entire three hour period, but the service will easily allow people to spend any one hour (Noon, 1pm or 2pm) without loss of continuity. There will be children’s ministry for all children (infants to grade 5), available for all three hours (Noon, 1pm and 2pm) in room 102 and the Hunt rooms. Please feel free to drop off your children for all three hours, or for any one or two of the three hours. Children will engage in all kinds of activities themed to Good Friday.
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