the great vigil

Of Easter

Holy Week 2024

Prepare + Participate
For Kids
Go Deeper

great vigil of easter

light and lessons

March 30
2 & 7pm

Livestream: 7pm. Our journey begins in candlelight as the ancient Exsultet chant ushers us into the Old Testament story of salvation history, presented through theater and music. 

See the Old Testament readings known as the “Salvation History” below.

Childcare available for ages 0-5 at 2pm only.

great vigil of easter

Prayer walk

March 30
9:45pm - 11pm

At 9:45pm, following the Light and Lessons 7pm service, join us for an outdoor prayer walk and processional to commence the All-Night Prayer Vigil, leaving from the narthex. No livestream or childcare. 

prayer vigil

March 30-31
11pm - 5am

Wait and watch with the Church through the night of Holy Saturday with worship, Easter Vigil Scriptures, preaching, and extended time for prayer. No livestream or childcare.

great vigil of easter

easter sunrise

April 9

A continuation of the services begun the day before, Vigil culminates with our sunrise Easter celebration, which includes the Acclamation that “Christ is Risen!”, the Holy Noise, baptisms, and the first Communion of Easter. All ages welcome, no childcare.

No livestream.

Coming March 30
7pm Light & lessons Only


The Easter Vigil is an ancient Christian tradition celebrated on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. The service begins in darkness and then includes the reading of Old Testament stories of God’s salvation.

What you need

  • A candle for each person to hold.
  • A bulletin (coming soon)

What to do

  • At the beginning of the service, light your candle. When the readings from Scripture begin, extinguish it.

Idea: Read the stories beforehand
Read the Easter Vigil readings ahead of time, especially if you have young children. You can even act out one of the readings, such as The Flood or The Red Sea!

Vigil Readings

The gold boxes denote the lessons that will be read this year.

There are twelve Old Testament readings that have been selected especially for our Light and Lessons service. These readings are known as the “Salvation History.” Our service this year includes seven of these readings.

Starting in the 1980’s when Resurrection was led by Canon William Beasley, there was a desire to make Holy Week not a series of rituals but a profound time of meeting the Lord. Thanks to his background in theater, Fr. William understood the ability of the arts to make abstract concepts concrete and accessible, and he charismatically drew artists to Resurrection. When he brought actors, visual artists, and musicians into the same room and gave them freedom to interpret the Salvation History readings, an explosion of creativity flowed forth. This continues to be true at Resurrection to this day, as artists are asked to be preachers by using their gifts to proclaim the heart of the Gospel.

For kids

Consider reading the Vigil passages ahead of time with your children in an easy-to-understand translation (such as the New Living Translation). Encourage them to act out a scene or perhaps create artwork inspired by the passage. 

Coloring pages of the vigil stories


Original painting by Resurrection artist Janice Skivington Wood of the angel appearing to the women at the empty tomb.
(Image copyright: Church of the Resurrection)


The Great Vigil of Easter is the crowning jewel of Holy Week; it traditionally begins after sunset on Holy Saturday and extends through the night, culminating in a sunrise service. Of all the services celebrated during Holy Week, the Easter Vigil is the oldest known service of the week. The earliest references to the Vigil are found in the second century AD. In the third and fourth centuries, Christians believed this was the most significant holy day for new Christians to declare their faith and become full members of the family of God. The Easter Vigil celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and looks forward to his coming again in glory to fully reconcile the world to himself.

The Service of Light is highlighted by the singing of the Exsultet, an ancient chant which describes the significance of the night and the journey on which we will embark together. It is at this time that the Paschal Candle is lit from a new fire outside of the church. Clergy members then process into the sanctuary with the light. As they reach the doors of the sanctuary, they stop and knock prior to entering. As the Paschal Candle enters the room, it is the only light, representing our passage from the darkness of death on Good Friday into the light of life on Easter Sunday. The Paschal Candle will burn during every service through Easter until Pentecost.

In the “Lessons” portion of this service, we dramatically reinterpret the traditional readings of our Great Vigil of Easter through visual art, theater, dance, and song. The artists of Resurrection have historically prepared for months in advance, writing original songs, crafting new art, and theatrically interpreting these scripture stories to tell the story of salvation to the church and those who may never have heard of God’s saving deeds for all people.

Because Resurrection was a mobile church from 1990-2012, each move into a new worship space pushed us to a new level of creativity. The move into Glenbard West High School gave us the space for our theatrical and artistic vision to come to full fruition. As the Vigil service grew, we moved into Edman Chapel at Wheaton College, and our artists were challenged to fill a larger space than ever before. Now that we are finally celebrating in our own home, a new level of joy has been unleashed as we adapt to the space that we built specifically to host our Easter services. Through each of these moves, however, Easter has continued to be marked by a bold, creative spirit that is inspired by scripture, liturgy, and the Holy Spirit.

Copyright 2019 // Church of the Resurrection