The Exultet, the first proclamation of the Easter Gospel, chanted during the Service of Light in the Easter Vigil service, seems a bit arrogant on our part. "Rejoice now all you heavenly choirs of angels; rejoice now all creation, sound forth, trumpet of salvation, and proclaim the triumph of our King. Rejoice, too, all the earth, in the radiance of the light now poured upon you and made brilliant by the brightness of the everlasting King; know that the ancient darkness has been forever banished. Rejoice, O Church of Christ, clothed in the brightness of this light; let all this house of God ring out with rejoicing, with the praises of all God's faithful people."
Why should the heavenly choirs of angels rejoice? Because Christ died and rose for humanity. Why should the whole creation rejoice? Because the Seed of Eve has crushed the serpent's head. Why should all the earth rejoice? Because all of history has been hoping for this event: the salvation of mankind through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
But that's just it; it's not arrogant. The angels don't need our prompting to rejoice on this night when we begin to celebrate our Lord's resurrection. Even though they don't receive mercy from the Lord through the death and resurrection of Christ, it gives them cause for delight when you receive mercy (Luke 15:7). They rejoice with us!
The move in the Exultet is like moving inward on a target closer to the bull's eye. Each inner ring is closer to the point. The angels rejoice. All the earth rejoices. The whole Mother Church rejoices. And this congregation rejoices. Why? Because Christ died and rose for you.
The Exultet is beautiful and enchanting. Here's a version similar to the one in Lutheran Service Book.
If you missed the Easter Vigil service, kick yourself. Barring the opportunity to join the heavenly choirs in singing the Exultet in the presence of the Lamb who was slain, there's still next year. April 11, 2009: mark your calendars. Meanwhile, you can watch a video of the service from our sister congregation in Worden, IL here: