Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 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 160 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

Monday, April 17, 2023

The Paschal Candle - Rector's Rambling for April 16, 2023

     At every service between now and May 18, 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).

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!


THANK YOU to the many people who made last Sunday’s Easter Day worship and coffee hour so special!  The Choir, Altar Guild, Servers, Readers, Ushers, and the many who pitched in to offer the hospitality after the worship in the Undercroft.