Saturday, April 23, 2011

An Easter Vigil Entmoot

In Middle-Earth, some trees do make noise when no one else is around.  There are trees of all kinds, but the most peculiar are the kinds of trees that are mysterious even to elves, such as Legolas.  The Two Towers is where we meet these delightfully peculiar trees, the Ents.  But they are more than trees.  This is no earth day-once-removed ploy.  These are the fabled trees of Fanghorn Forest.  Many tales were told concerning these aged timber, relics of the Elder Days.  The Ents are an important - and yet often neglected part - of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  They make their appearances in the movies well enough.  However, there time on screen is too hasty.  And nothing can be done too hasty if you are an Ent, or wish to understand the Entish way of things. 

And so, the Holy Triduum trek continues tonight with the Vigil of Easter.  It is a service done in the Old Entish way.  What this means, you shall soon behold.  But if you do not have an Easter Vigil at your church, find one that does and demand (in Christian love, of course, wink wink, nudge nudge, know what I mean?) that your pastor and church begin one next year.  And if you are blessed to have one, by all means, go to the Easter Vigil, the great Entmoot of the church.  Hoo, hum...what is an Entmoot?  Well, let's tune in and find out.  For we live in a world that is all too hasty - and in this regard, we can learn a great deal from the Ents how to celebrate Easter Vigil as the church groans together awaiting the Resurrection.  Hoom, hm, room tum, room tum.

"We're half-grown hobbits, the hole-dwellers," sung Pippin...Hm, but you are hasty folk, I see' said Treebeard (one of the chief Ents).  'I am honoured by your confidence; but you should not be too free all at once.  There are Ents and Ents, you know; or there are Ents and things that look like Ents but ain't, as you might say.  I'll call you Merry and Pippin, if you please - nice names.  For I am not going to tell you my name, not yet at any rate...For one thing it would take a long while: my name is growing all the time, and I've lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story.  Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say.  It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time to say anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to."

Treebeard is right. Any good story, anything that's worth saying, takes a long time to say, and to listen to.  That, my friends, is Easter Vigil.  We tell the story and we listen.  And if any story is worth telling it does take a long while to tell it.  For this is not just any old story, not some fable of men's dreams.  Easter Vigil is the night where the seal of the grave cracks open.  But the story takes a while; you must hear the story of the Lord's salvation from Genesis to Jonah and beyond, to the resurrection.  Hoom, hm, hum.  It begins in the cool of the Garden, where Eden's light is covered in shadow by the wicked serpent, by disobedience; where man is overcome by means of a tree.  But in that first darkness there is light.  A child is promised.  One will be born of woman in order to crush the head of this wicked "wizard."  Hoom, ho, ha. The story continues, the Light grows stronger, from the moisten flood plains of Noah to the dry ground where Israel trod from death to life through water the Lord works His victory for His people with the strength of His right arm and the Word of Yahweh leading the way.  Hm, hum, roomy toom tum.  The Shadow of Death appears to be gaining a foothold, hell's wizard appears to conjure up new tricks at every turn, wicked people, dry bones, faithless prophets, traitors and murderers all of them.  It seems that even God's servants, like Job, are not safe from battle scars.  But the story continues.  The people of Nineveh were saved.  The dry bones were raised.  Job's redeemer is clothed in crucified and resurrected flesh, his own flesh, yet redeemed!  Of course, this acount is all too hasty.  But that is why Easter Vigil is, by far, my favorite service of the church year.  The church takes time to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the Word of Yahweh's salvation.  Like the Ents, the church gathers for Easter Vigil, like the great Entmoot in Two Towers, in order to mark the history and future of things in the story.  Thankfully, for us, the story told is true, and not only true, but we know the ending.  Like the song of the ends goes from sadness to joy, from sorrow to redemption.

For the temple curtain is torn from top to bottom.  The saints are streaming out of their graves into the Holy City, New Jerusalem.  The gates of Paradise are unlocked.  Noah's ark has survived the flood and takes us up to Ararat.  Pharaoh and his host have been drown in the Red Sea.  The Passover Lamb has been slain, raised from the dead and eaten by the conquering army.  Even now, we are led through on dry land, Jordan is backed up like a heap and Canaan is in our grasp.  Jerusalem is in view.  The EntmootEntwives, 466 LOTR).

Much like the church, on her pilgrimage to the New Jerusalem, Treebeard and the Ents were heading to an Entmoot, a gathering of Ents.  They gathered in the shadow of Isengard, where the wicked wizard, Saruman had already begun to hatch his evil plot.  But it would not prevail.  And neither did the devil's hordes or death's dark shadow. Not even the gates of hell can prevail against our Lord, who accomplished the salvation of mankind by the tree of the cross that, where death arose, there life might also rise again and that the serpent who overcame by the tree of the garden might likewise by the tree of the cross be overcome.

"To Isengard! Though Isengard be ringed and barred with doors of stone; Though Isengard be strong and hard, as cold as stone and bare as bone, We go, we go, we go to war, to hew the stone and break the door; For bole and bough are burning now, the furnace roars - we go to war!  To land of gloom with tramps of doom, with roll of drum, we come, we come; To Isengard with doom we come!"

So it, is - hum, hoom, ho - to the Vigil we go.  Christ leads his bride to the great Easter Entmoot.  To dance on the devil's grave; to eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we live!  Night lies over Isengard and the dawn of Christ lies over the entire world.  The age of Adam is over.  The age of Christ has now begun. Christ is Risen.  He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

P.S. Super nerd-tastic thanks to Pastor William Weedon for dropping this great gem of an idea on an Issues Etc. interview a few years ago.


  1. thank you, Julie. and thanks for reading! Peace of Christ be with you.