On Great & Holy Saturday at 10:00am, we will celebrate the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil the Great with 15 Old Testament Readings.
On Holy Saturday Vespers are served with the Divine Liturgy of St Basil the Great. This service already belongs to the Passover Sunday. Following the evening entrance which is made with the Gospel Book, fifteen readings from the Old Testament scriptures are read, all of which relate to God’s work of creation and salvation which has been summed up and fulfilled in the coming of the predicted Messiah.
After the Old Testament readings the celebrant intones the normal liturgical exclamation for the singing of the Thrice-Holy Hymn, but in its place the baptismal verse from Galatians is sung: As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia (Gal 3:27). As usual in the Divine Liturgy the epistle reading follows at this point. It is the normal baptismal selection of the Orthodox Church (Rom 6:3-11). If we have been united with him in a death like his we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom 6:5). This is done because originally this Liturgy was the Paschal baptismal liturgy of Christians. It remains today as the annual experience for every Christian of his own dying and rising with the Lord.
During this Liturgy, all vestings of the church appointments are also changed into the color signifying Christ’s triumph over sin, the devil and death. This revesting takes place while the people sing the verses of Psalm 82:
Arise O Lord and judge the earth, for to Thee belong all the nations.
After the solemn chanting of the psalm verses, to which are often added the hymn glorifying Christ as the New Passover, the Living Sacrifice who is slain, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world; the celebrants emerge from the altar to announce over the tomb of Christ the glad tidings of his victorious triumph over death and his command to the apostles: “Make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded. …” (Mt 28:1.20). This Gospel text is also the reading of the baptismal ceremony of the Orthodox Church.
The Divine Liturgy is fulfilled in the communion with him who lies dead in his human body, and yet is enthroned eternally with God the Father; the one who, as the Creator and Life of the World, destroys death by his life-creating death. His tomb—which still stands in the center of the church—is shown to be, as the Liturgy calls it: the fountain of our resurrection.