Remember Easter? That was a long time ago now! But I’m sure Holy Week and Easter 2020 will always stick in your mind. It will certainly stick in mine! Only a week or so into Live Streaming and using zoom and we were trying to find ways to celebrate the greatest Festival of the Church’s year from the isolation of our homes. Although there was a lot to do, Rachel and I enjoyed leading Holy Week and I was glad we were able to share it in some way.
One of the things we didn’t do was light the Paschal candle. So, this Sunday we are going to catch up! I will be lighting the Paschal candle as part of both services this week. It will be another marker that we are moving forwards now that we are able to meet for worship and as we begin to host Weddings and funerals again.
For those who don’t know, the Paschal candle is the large candle that usually lives by the Font. We get the word Paschal from the word the early church used for Holy Week and Easter: Pascha. Early Christians in turn had borrowed this from the Jewish word Pesach, meaning Passover. So, it is the candle representing the Christian Passover of Easter, the death and resurrection of Jesus, whose risen life is represented by the flame of the candle. The candle is a symbol in its own right, but it is also decorated with other symbols representing the victory of Jesus. This year the main symbol on our Paschal candle is a phoenix, signifying the resurrection. There are also the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, Alpha and Omega, reminding us that the resurrection vindicates Jesus as God’s Son, as the eternal Word through whom all time has come into being. When it is lit, nails are placed at five points around the design to remind us of Christ’s wounds.
And the current year 2020 is also marked on the candle. For many of us, 2020 probably doesn’t feel like something we want to celebrate. I think lots of people are feeling that it is something to be got through – which is understandable, many people have had and are having a difficult few months. But the Paschal candle always has the current year marked on it to remind us that the wonder of Easter, the Paschal mystery, the love God shows us in Christ, is the same every year, no matter its challenges. We celebrate Easter every year to enter into that mystery again. In fact, we celebrate Easter every Sunday – it is our sabbath because it was on Sunday, the first day of the week that the disciples found the empty tomb. So, the Easter season may have ended two months ago but, in the words of St Augustine, ‘we are an Easter people and alleluia is our song’. We still can’t sing together yet (something I am really missing being able to do together!), but we can gather as God’s Easter people. We remind ourselves of that by lighting the Paschal candle.
With my love and prayers for you,
All Saints Vicarage,
Thursday 30th July 2020
This week at All Saints:
9.30am Family Eucharist (A-L if possible) live-streamed via the website and available afterwards via Facebook and YouTube
11.00am Family Eucharist (M-Z if possible)