The Joy at the End of the Fast

Joe Willmann Teaching the Faith at Home

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“Christ is Risen!” the pastor shouts with joy. “He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia!” responds the congregation. The anticipation that has been building is over, the fast has been broken, and now the organ blares and the congregation joins with all the host of heaven in proclaiming, “This is the feast of victory for our God. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!”

This year was the first time that I had ever been to an Easter Vigil service, and I took my preschool daughter with me. I was worried about how late it was; the service started about fifteen minutes before her normal bedtime, and it would go on for an hour and a half past her bedtime. I had thoughts of not taking her and letting her go to bed at a normal time before Easter, but when I told her what was happening during the service, that there would be fire, and we would be in the dark, and at some point, the Alleluias would return and we would get to sing “This Is the Feast” again, her eyes lit up and I knew there wasn’t any way she was going to stay at home.

And the service did not disappoint. The Paschal candle, the darkness, the Light of Christ, the Scripture, the Baptismal Remembrance, the prayers, the Easter proclamation, the Sacrament of the Altar, it was all there. If the church has anything that you would call a party, this is it.

But what made this service so special? It’s not as if there were any elements in the service that we don’t celebrate in every Divine Service. We have God’s Word spread throughout. We have prayers. We have the Supper. So what was it?

It was the breaking of the fast. It was the return of the Alleluias. Back again was the joy that little word gives—the joy that we willingly abstained from all through Lent.

More than the word being back was the joy in my daughter’s face as she shouted the words to “This Is the Feast” above everyone else. The fast had taught her about the joy we find in Christ’s redeeming work for us all. It had taught her how wonderful it is to know that she is loved by Christ and that in Him, the victory has been won.

Fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, as you bring up your children in the love of Christ, continue to use the Church Year and the traditions that we have to teach your children about what Christ has done for them. They have purpose, they have meaning, and they are there to aid you.

As we navigate through the season of Easter toward Pentecost, consider these three things to help you teach throughout the rest of the Church Year:

  1. Learn the colors of the Church Year and point them out to your children. You can ask: “Why is the pastor wearing red [or whatever color he is wearing] today?” Consider using Ordering Our Days in His Peace
  2. Find a different symbol in your church every week to talk to your children about. You can ask: “Why is Mark represented by a lion?” Consider using Behold the Lamb: An Introduction to Christian Symbolism
  3. Talk with your children about a different portion of the Divine Service every week. You can ask: “Why does the pastor say, ‘In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ during the Invocation?” Consider using Worshiping with Angels and Archangels

God’s blessings as you teach the faith once for all, delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Joe Willmann


Joe Willmann is the Senior Instructional Designer for Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis, MO. A former teacher and administrator, Joe has a passion for education and learning theory. He earned his Bachelor's Degree from Ball State University and his Master's Degree from Concordia University - Ann Arbor. He lives with his wife, Nicole, his daughter Ava, and his son Carter. You can read his latest posts here.

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