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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Celebrating the 40 days of Easter! - Rector's Rambling for April 12, 2015

At every service between now and May 14, this large candle will be burning somewhere near the sanctuary.  It is known as The Paschal Candle.  The word Paschal comes from the greek for “passing over”.  Our Lord Jesus Christ “passed over” from death to life in His Resurrection, which we celebrated on Easter and continue for 40 days.  This candle symbolizes that passing over.
Like Christmas, Easter is not just an event and a day, but an entire church season, lasting 40 days until the Feast of the Ascension (although those using the new calendar pass over Ascension and make the season last for 50 days, until Pentecost).  Those 40 days represent the 40 days in which Jesus, after His Resurrection from the dead, continued to appear to the disciples to console, encourage, and teach them.
At the Easter Vigil service a week ago Saturday, we blessed this candle and prayed as it was lit for the first time, “May the light of Christ, gloriously rising, dispel the darkness of hearts and minds.  O Father in Heaven, pour forth we beseech thee, Almighty God, thy abundant blessings upon this lighted candle.”
At the Feast of the Ascension, after the reading of the story of our Lord’s Ascension at the Communion service, the candle is put out.  But it won’t stay out.  It will continue to be used for baptisms and funerals, two occasions when we particularly remember Christ’s death and resurrection (in baptism we die to sin and rise to newness of life, and at funerals we pass to eternal life with Jesus).
This year, our Ascension Service will be particularly grand, being celebrated by the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury!
Take note of that Paschal Candle because it is a wonderful, tangible reminder that Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death, and that through Him we rise to newness of life!