The pictures from all over the world of Christians finding different ways to celebrate Easter this year reminded me that in the earliest days of our faith, and still for brothers and sisters in certain places in the world, the everyday practice of being a Christian brought and brings the risk of being persecuted. As our gathering is disrupted this year, we can perhaps draw on the strength and resilience they showed, and show day in and day out, giving thanks for and seeking to share the depths of their faithfulness.
The Easter Vigil liturgy which begins the celebration of the resurrection has its roots in the earliest days of the persecuted church when Christians gathered in the catacombs, and those who were joining the church were baptised into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The first fire of Easter was lit in the darkest night and celebrations met the dawn of Easter day.
The full service now includes a series of readings from the Old and New Testament that remind us of God’s continuing acts of liberation and salvation, which for Christians have their fulfilment in the resurrection of Jesus. There are beautiful prayers for the lighting of the new Paschal Candle to acclaim Jesus the light of the world, including the Exultet and the Gloria (not heard throughout Lent) and usually the font is blessed as we recall our own baptismal promises.
I am going to light our new Paschal candle in the darkness of the night (10pm) and I invite you to light a candle in your own homes too. I will attach a list of the readings and some of the prayers of this celebration for you to use in your own way if you would like to. When we return to our churches I hope we can, together, bless the font and recall the promises of Baptism as a thanksgiving for renewed freedom to worship the God of our salvation as God’s gathered people, and complete our Easter celebration.
God bless you as we are witnesses of the resurrection in our own way on this Holy night,
The Reverend Samantha Stayte
The Lyn Valley Mission Community