Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Thursday, May 01, 2014

The Paschal Candle - A teaching note for April 27, 2014

The flame of the Paschal candle symbolizes Christ as light of the world and his presence in the midst of his people.  The Paschal candle is sometimes referred to as the “Easter candle” or the “Christ candle.”  The term “Paschal” comes from the word Pesach, which in Hebrew means Passover.  The tall white candle in many ways signifies the Divine pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night that lead the Israelites in their Exodus from slavery in Egypt.
The Paschal candle holds a prominent place in worship in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and some other Protestant churches.  For congregations that use a Paschal candle it is the largest candle in the worship space.  In most cases today the candle will display several common symbols:
· The cross is always the central symbol, most clearly identifying it as the Paschal candle
· The Greek letters alpha and omega signify that God is the beginning and the end (taken from the Book of Revelation)
· The current year represents God’s presence here and now in the midst of the gathered worshipers
· Five grains of incense are embedded in the candle (sometimes encased in wax “nails”) during the Easter Vigil to represent the five wounds of Jesus: one in each hand, one in each foot, and the spear thrust into his side
The candle remains lit at all worship services throughout Eastertide, until Ascension Day (when it is extinguished just after the Gospel) during which time it is located in the sanctuary close to the altar.  After Eastertide, it is frequently placed near the baptismal font.
The Paschal candle is also lit during services that include the sacrament of baptism to signify the Spirit and fire that John the Baptist promised to those who were baptized in Christ.  During the sacrament of baptism in many traditions, a small candle will be lit and presented to the newly-baptized by a member of the community with words similar to, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (St. Matthew v. 16.)
The Paschal candle is often lit and placed near the casket (or remains) for worship services surrounding the death of a believer (funeral, Mass of Repose, and Mass of Requiem) as a sign of the hope of the resurrection into which Christians are baptized.
~ Edited by Fr. Kelly from wikipedia.org/Paschal_candle