Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! In the words of one of the Eucharistic prayers ‘He offered his life for sinners and with a love stronger than death he opened wide his arms on the cross’. His love was indeed ‘stronger than death’. His body was not found in the tomb; he appeared to his disciples, spoke with them and broke bread with them! And he loves us still; no one is beyond the reach of his love.
Traditionally, a fire is lit either at midnight or just before dawn on Easter Sunday representing the light of Christ coming into the world. From this fire a new Paschal Candle is lit and carried into the dark church to the chant of ‘The Light of Christ – Thanks be to God’. This candle will continue to be lit on important occasions throughout the following year as a reminder of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The candle is marked by a sign of the cross and of the Greek letters Alpha and Omega – the first and last letters of the alphabet, and sometimes with other symbols too. The name ‘Paschal Candle’ comes from the Hebrew word Pesach, which means Passover. (See last week’s thoughts for more about Passover.) At the original Passover, doors were marked by Israelites with a lamb’s blood; in such houses God’s people were saved from slaughter by the Egyptian Pharaoh. The blood of the lamb saved the people – a powerful image! Jesus, the Lamb of God, sacrificed for us. Let us pray in joy:
Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death
and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:
Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection,
may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.