We are journeying through the Spiritual Season of Lent. It is a time of preparation for Holy Week and the last events of the life of Jesus. The ultimate triumphal ending which is really the beginning is Jesus’ raising from the dead, conquering, overcoming all.
There are words used at this time of year that can sound foreign to us. One of those words with ancient meaning is “Paschal”. The Paschal Mystery refers to the death,resurrection and ascension of our Lord into glory. The Paschal Mystery is the central mystery ofthe Christian Faith, celebrated at the Easter Triduum – the THREE days: HolyThursday evening, Good Friday and Holy Saturday culminating in the Resurrectionon Easter Sunday.
One of the ancient traditions of the early church was that of the lighting of the New Fire to remember that Jesus is the Light of the world, illuminating the path that takes each of us to the home that Jesus has told us is already prepared for us.
The earliest writing about this tradition is recorded by historian Jerome who lived from 347-420 AD. This means that the practice of rememberingJesus’ Resurrection with the Paschal (Easter) Candle, is a very old traditionfor Christians, beginning in the 3 Century.
This year Zion will be celebrating this ancient tradition on Easter Morning at the beginning of ourEaster Sunday Worship Service.
All who would like to witness the lighting of the New Fire will gather in the Narthex of the church where the fire will be lit and the Paschal Candle prepared through recallingthe Scriptures. The Candle will then belit from the New Fire remembering the triumph of Jesus and his presence alwayswith us till the end of time.
The Candle will then be brought forward in a Procession and set in a special candle stand in a place of prominence where the Light of Christ will reign in this symbolic reminder until Ascension Day which is 40 days after Easter and 10 days before Pentecost. The Paschal Candle will then be removed as we begin the time of Pentecost. Throughout the year the Paschal Candle will be lit for special services of Light, like Baptisms and Funerals.
All that I have mentioned here reminds us that we are part of a rich and ancient tradition that continues to enrich and fill our hearts while deepening our relationship with Jesus Christ, who Lights up our lives and calls us each by name.
Come and be a witness to our Christian heritage as we light the NEW FIRE of CHRIST and remember whose you are.
Fullness of life…..
The Rev. Dr. CarolVaccariello
Zion UCC, Pastor