Easter Vigil Readings

Click on the PRAYER link after each reading
to pray the prayer which follows that reading.

I
Genesis 1:1-2:2

The Story of Creation

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 
The earth was barren, with no form of life; 

 it was under a roaring ocean covered with darkness. 

But the Spirit of God was moving over the water. 

The First Day 
God said, "I command light to shine!" And light started shining.  God looked at the light and saw that it was good. He separated light from darkness  and named the light "Day" and the darkness "Night." Evening came and then morning - that was the first day.

The Second Day 
God said, "I command a dome to separate the water above it from the water below it."   And that's what happened. God made the dome and named it "Sky." Evening came and then morning - that was the second day. 

The Third Day 
God said, "I command the water under the sky to come together in one place, so there will be dry ground." And that's what happened.   God named the dry ground "Land," and he named the water "Ocean." God looked at what he had done and saw that it was good. 

God said, "I command the earth to produce all kinds of plants, including fruit trees and grain." And that's what happened.  The earth produced all kinds of vegetation. God looked at what he had done, and it was good.   Evening came and then morning  - that was the third day. 

The Fourth Day 
God said, "I command lights to appear in the sky and to separate day from night and to show the time for seasons, special days, and years.   I command them to shine on the earth." And that's what happened.  God made two powerful lights, the brighter one to rule the day and the other to rule the night. He also made the stars. 

Then God put these lights in the sky to shine on the earth,  to rule day and night, and to separate light from darkness. God looked at what he had done, and it was good.   Evening came and then morning that was the fourth day. 

The Fifth Day 
God said, "I command the ocean to be full of living creatures, and I command birds to fly above the earth."   So God made the giant sea monsters and all the living creatures that swim in the ocean. He also made every kind of bird. God looked at what he had done, and it was good.

Then he gave the living creatures his blessing -- he told the ocean creatures to live everywhere in the ocean and the birds to live everywhere on earth.  Evening came and then morning that was the fifth day. 

The Sixth Day 
God said, "I command the earth to give life to all kinds of tame animals, wild animals, and reptiles." And that's what happened.   God made every one of them. Then he looked at what he had done, and it was good. 

God said, "Now we will make humans, and they will be like us. We will let them rule the fish, the birds, and all other living creatures."  So God created humans to be like himself; he made men and women.   God gave them his blessing and said:

Have a lot of children! Fill the earth with people and bring it under your control. Rule over the fish in the ocean, the birds in the sky, and every animal on the earth.  I have provided all kinds of fruit and grain for you to eat.   And I have given the green plants as food for everything else that breathes. These will be food for animals, both wild and tame, and for birds. God looked at what he had done. All of it was very good! Evening came and then morning - that was the sixth day. 

So the heavens and the earth and everything else were created. 

The Seventh Day 
By the seventh day God had finished his work, and so he rested. 

Prayer


II
Genesis 22:1-18

The LORD Tells Abraham To Offer Isaac as a Sacrifice

Some years later God decided to test Abraham, so he spoke to him.

Abraham answered, "Here I am, LORD." 

The LORD said, "Go get Isaac, your only son, the one you dearly love! Take him to the land of Moriah, and I will show you a mountain where you must sacrifice him to me on the fires of an altar."   So Abraham got up early the next morning and chopped wood for the fire. He put a saddle on his donkey and left with Isaac and two servants for the place where God had told him to go. 

Three days later Abraham looked off in the distance and saw the place.   He told his servants, "Stay here with the donkey, while my son and I go over there to worship. We will come back." 

Abraham put the wood on Isaac's shoulder, but he carried the hot coals and the knife. As the two of them walked along,   Isaac said, "Father, we have the coals and the wood, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?"

"My son," Abraham answered, "God will provide the lamb."

The two of them walked on, and  when they reached the place that God had told him about, Abraham built an altar and placed the wood on it. Next, he tied up his son and put him on the wood.   He then took the knife and got ready to kill his son.   But the LORD'S angel shouted from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"

"Here I am!" he answered. 

"Don't hurt the boy or harm him in any way!" the angel said. "Now I know that you truly obey God, because you were willing to offer him your only son." 

Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the bushes. So he took the ram and sacrificed it in place of his son.

Abraham named that place "The LORD Will Provide." And even now people say, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."

The LORD'S angel called out from heaven a second time: 
You were willing to offer the LORD your only son, and so he makes you this solemn promise,   "I will bless you and give you such a large family, that someday your descendants will be more numerous than the stars in the sky or the grains of sand along the beach. They will defeat their enemies and take over the cities where their enemies live.   You have obeyed me, and so you and your descendants will be a blessing to all nations on earth."

Prayer


III

Exodus 14:15-15:1

The Israelites Cross the Red Sea

At Etham the LORD said to Moses: 

Tell the people of Israel to turn back and camp across from Pi-Hahiroth near Baal-Zephon, between Migdol and the Red Sea.    The king will think they were afraid to cross the desert and that they are wandering around, trying to find another way to leave the country.  I will make the king stubborn again, and he will try to catch you. Then I will destroy him and his army. People everywhere will praise me for my victory, and the Egyptians will know that I really am the LORD.

The Israelites obeyed the LORD and camped where he told them. 

When the king of Egypt heard that the Israelites had finally left, he and his officials changed their minds and said, "Look what we have done! We let them get away, and they will no longer be our slaves." 

The king got his war chariot and army ready.   He commanded his officers in charge of his six hundred best chariots and all his other chariots to start after the Israelites.   The LORD made the king so stubborn that he went after them, even though the Israelites proudly went on their way.  But the king's horses and chariots and soldiers caught up with them while they were camping by the Red Sea near Pi-Hahiroth and Baal-Zephon. 

When the Israelites saw the king coming with his army, they were frightened and begged the LORD for help.   They also complained to Moses, "Wasn't there enough room in Egypt to bury us? Is that why you brought us out here to die in the desert? Why did you bring us out of Egypt anyway?  While we were there, didn't we tell you to leave us alone? We had rather be slaves in Egypt than die in this desert!" 

But Moses answered, "Don't be afraid! Be brave, and you will see the LORD save you today. These Egyptians will never bother you again.   The LORD will fight for you, and you won't have to do a thing." 

The LORD said to Moses, "Why do you keep calling out to me for help? Tell the Israelites to move forward.   Then hold your walking stick over the sea. The water will open up and make a road where they can walk through on dry ground.   I will make the Egyptians so stubborn that they will go after you. Then I will be praised because of what happens to the king and his chariots and cavalry.   The Egyptians will know for sure that I am the LORD."

All this time God's angel had gone ahead of Israel's army, but now he moved behind them. A large cloud had also gone ahead of them,   but now it moved between the Egyptians and the Israelites. The cloud gave light to the Israelites, but made it dark for the Egyptians, and during the night they could not come any closer. 

Moses stretched his arm over the sea, and the LORD sent a strong east wind that blew all night until there was dry land where the water had been. The sea opened up, and the Israelites walked through on dry land with a wall of water on each side. 

The Egyptian chariots and cavalry went after them.   But before daylight the LORD looked down at the Egyptian army from the fiery cloud and made them panic.   Their chariot wheels got stuck, and it was hard for them to move. So the Egyptians said to one another, "Let's leave these people alone! The LORD is on their side and is fighting against us." 

The LORD told Moses, "Stretch your arm toward the sea; the water will cover the Egyptians and their cavalry and chariots."  Moses stretched out his arm, and at daybreak the water rushed toward the Egyptians. They tried to run away, but the LORD drowned them in the sea.   The water came and covered the chariots, the cavalry, and the whole Egyptian army that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them was left alive.   But the sea had made a wall of water on each side of the Israelites; so they walked through on dry land. 

On that day, when the Israelites saw the bodies of the Egyptians washed up on the shore, they knew that the LORD had saved them.   Because of the mighty power he had used against the Egyptians, the Israelites worshiped him and trusted him and his servant Moses. 

The Song of Moses

Moses and the Israelites sang this song in praise of the LORD: 

 I sing praises to the LORD for his great victory! 
 He has thrown the horses and their riders into the sea. 

Prayer


IV

Isaiah 54:5-14

The LORD All-Powerful, the Holy God of Israel, 
 rules all the earth. 

 He is your Creator and husband, and he will rescue you.

You were like a young wife, brokenhearted and crying 
 because her husband had divorced her. 

But the LORD your God says, 
 "I am taking you back!   I rejected you for a while, 
 but with love and tenderness I will embrace you again. 

For a while, I turned away in furious anger. 
Now I will have mercy and love you forever! 
I, your protector and LORD, make this promise." 
The LORD Promises Lasting Peace

I once promised Noah that I would never again
 destroy the earth by a flood. 
Now I have promised that I will never again
 get angry and punish you. 

Every mountain and hill may disappear. 
But I will always be kind and merciful to you; 
I won't break my agreement to give your nation peace. 
The New Jerusalem

Jerusalem, you are sad and discouraged, 
 tossed around in a storm. 
But I, the LORD, will rebuild your city 
 with precious stones; 
 for your foundation I will use blue sapphires. 

Your fortresses will be built of rubies, 
 your gates of jewels, and your walls of gems. 
I will teach your children and make them successful.

You will be built on fairness with no fears of injustice; 
 every one of your worries will be taken far from you. 

Prayer


V

Isaiah 55:1-11

The LORD'S Invitation

If you are thirsty, come and drink water! 
If you don't have any money, come, eat what you want! 
Drink wine and milk without paying a cent. 

Why waste your money on what really isn't food? 
Why work hard for something that doesn't satisfy? 

Listen carefully to me, 
 and you will enjoy the very best foods.

Pay close attention! Come to me and live. 
I will promise you the eternal love and loyalty 
 that I promised David. 
I made him the leader and ruler of the nations; 
 he was my witness to them. 

You will call out to nations you have never known. 
And they have never known you, 
 but they will come running because I am the LORD, 
 the holy God of Israel, and I have honored you. 
 

Turn to the LORD! He can still be found. 
Call out to God! He is near. 
Give up your crooked ways and your evil thoughts. 
 Return to the LORD our God. 
 He will be merciful and forgive your sins.
 

The LORD says: "My thoughts and my ways 
 are not like yours. 
Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
 my thoughts and my ways are higher than yours.

"Rain and snow fall from the sky. 
 But they don't return without watering the earth 
 that produces seeds to plant and grain to eat. 
That's how it is with my words. 
They don't return to me without doing everything 
I send them to do." 

Prayer


VI

Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4
 

Wisdom Comes from God

Listen carefully, people of Israel, so you can learn about wisdom and the commands that lead to life.  You have lived in this enemy land so long that you are now much older. You are unfit to worship the Lord and are unclean, like a dead body.   In fact, you are almost dead yourselves! Don't you know why these things are happening to you?  It's because you have turned away from the only source of wisdom.  If you had followed the ways of God, you would have lived in peace forever.  Learn where wisdom, strength, and knowledge come from. Then you will know how to have a long and peaceful life, and you will find light to guide you.

God alone knows Wisdom, because he knows everything. In fact, he discovered Wisdom with his own knowledge. God created the earth to last forever, and then filled it with all kinds of animals.  When he commanded light to shine, it trembled and obeyed, and now goes wherever he sends it. 

Wisdom is found in the book of God's laws and teachings, and they will last forever. Everyone who follows Wisdom will live, but those who ignore her will die.   People of Israel, you must turn to Wisdom and keep her with you always. Her light shines brightly, so walk toward it.   Don't give away to any other nation the glorious Wisdom that rightfully belongs to you.  We should celebrate, because we are the people of Israel, the only ones who know what pleases God.

Prayer


VII

Ezekiel 36:16-28

The LORD Will Be Honored

The LORD said: 

Ezekiel, son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own country, they made the land unclean by the way they behaved, just as a woman's monthly period makes her unclean.   They committed murders and worshiped idols, which made the land even worse. So in my anger, I punished my people and scattered them throughout the nations, just as they deserved.   Wherever they went, my name was disgraced, because foreigners insulted my people by saying I had forced them out of their own land.  I care what those foreigners think of me,  so tell the Israelites that I am saying:

You have disgraced my holy name among the nations where you now live. So you don't deserve what I'm going to do for you. I will lead you home to bring honor to my name and to show foreign nations that I am holy. Then they will know that I am the LORD God. I have spoken.
I will gather you from the foreign nations and bring you home.   I will sprinkle you with clean water, and you will be clean and acceptable to me. I will wash away everything that makes you unclean, and I will remove your disgusting idols.   I will take away your stubborn heart and give you a new heart and a desire to be faithful. You will have only pure thoughts, because I will put my Spirit in you and make you eager to obey my laws and teachings.   You will once again live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.

Prayer



The Gloria
Prayer
Epistle
 Romans 6:3-11

Don't you know that all who share in Christ Jesus by being baptized also share in his death? 

When we were baptized, we died and were buried with Christ. We were baptized, so that we would live a new life, as Christ was raised to life by the glory of God the Father. 

If we shared in Jesus' death by being baptized, we will be raised to life with him.   We know that the persons we used to be were nailed to the cross with Jesus. This was done, so that our sinful bodies would no longer be the slaves of sin.   We know that sin doesn't have power over dead people.

As surely as we died with Christ, we believe we will also live with him.   We know that death no longer has any power over Christ. He died and was raised to life, never again to die.   When Christ died, he died for sin once and for all. But now he is alive, and he lives only for God. 

In the same way, you must think of yourselves as dead to the power of sin. But Christ Jesus has given life to you, and you live for God. 


Gospel Year A

Matthew 28:1-10

Jesus Is Alive

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.

His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. Then the angel said to the women in reply, "Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.

He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.' Behold, I have told you." Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.

And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.

Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me."


Gospel Year B

Mark 16: 1-8

Jesus Is Alive

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him.

Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb. They were saying to one another, "Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?"
When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back;
it was very large. On entering the tomb they saw a young man
sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed.

He said to them, "Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.'"


Gospel Year C

Luke 24:1-12

Jesus Is Alive

Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, carrying the spices that they had prepared. 

When they found the stone rolled away from the entrance, they went in. But they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus,  and they did not know what to think.

Suddenly two men in shining white clothes stood beside them.   The women were afraid and bowed to the ground. But the men said, "Why are you looking in the place of the dead for someone who is alive?   Jesus isn't here! He has been raised from death. Remember that while he was still in Galilee, he told you,   'The Son of Man will be handed over to sinners who will nail him to a cross. But three days later he will rise to life.' " 

Then they remembered what Jesus had said.

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and some other women were the ones who had gone to the tomb. When they returned, they told the eleven apostles and the others what had happened.   The apostles thought it was all nonsense, and they would not believe.

But Peter ran to the tomb. And when he stooped down and looked in, he saw only the burial clothes. Then he returned, wondering what had happened. 
 

Contemporary English Version - The Holy Bible (New York , NY: American Bible Society 1995)


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