It’s not too late to wish you a happy Easter! The Easter season – Eastertide – lasts until Pentecost (Whit Sunday on 4th June).
Easter, unlike Christmas is a movable feast, meaning its date changes each year. In Western Christianity, Easter always falls on a Sunday between 22 March and 25 April within about seven days of the full moon.
Imagine living a few hundred years ago, before the industrial revolution and the arrival of street lighting. Walking around after sunset on a moonless night would have been risky – falling foul of thieves, wild animals, or falling into a ditch – in pitch darkness anything could happen. Thank goodness for the light of a full moon and daylight. As the Book of Genesis tells us:
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
It’s little wonder then that light plays such an important part in our domestic and social lives. And so it is that light is an important part of our Christian faith; Christian’s declare Christ is ‘The Light of the World’.
Every year, in churches around the world, the new fire of Easter is lit and from it the Paschal Candle; a candle to be used throughout the following year signifying the risen Christ at Baptisms and Funerals.
On Easter Eve the newly lit Paschal Candle is carried into the church in darkness as the priest sings the ‘Light of Christ’ echoing the wonderful words in the first chapter of St John’s Gospel:
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
As we read in the book of Isaiah:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
Jesus, in His ministry, uses the contrast of darkness and light to promise that His followers will have the ‘light of life’ saying:
“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
One of my favourite prayers concerns light and darkness and comes from the service for Evening Prayer, when we say:
Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Although we live at a time when people sometimes complain of ‘light pollution’, there often seems to be darkness threatening us. During this joyful Eastertide, and always, embrace Jesus the ‘Light of the World’ and reject darkness.
Come and join us at St David’s for one of our services either midweek or on a Sunday. You will find a warm welcome and see our Easter Candle burning bright.
May God bless you and all those who you love now and for evermore.
(This article was originally published as part of St David’s Messenger in May 2017)