Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Invitation to the Easter Liturgy

On Easter Sunday, 4th April, at 5.30am in All Saints Church, we celebrate the Easter Liturgy. This Involves:

The Lighting of the New Fire, the Blessing of the Paschal Candle, the Vigil of Readings, the ‘Sounding’ before the Gloria (please bring rattles, bells etc.),
the Renewal of Baptism and the first Holy Communion of Easter.

and is followed by the Easter Breakfast at about 7am.

The Easter Vigil is the most important Mass of the Church’s year, and the first celebration of the Eucharist during the fifty-day long celebration of Easter, the Queen of Seasons. It is this service to which every other Eucharist points during the year.

We gather as dawn breaks, in the cloisters at All Saints, where a bonfire, the Easter fire is blessed by the celebrant. This new fire symbolizes the radiance of the Risen Christ dispelling the darkness of sin and death. The Paschal Candle is then marked, blessed and lit. This Paschal Candle will be used throughout the Season of Easter, remaining by the altar, and throughout the coming year at baptisms and funerals, reminding us of Christ, who is light and life.

Once the Candle has been lit, it is carried by a deacon into the Church, itself in complete darkness, stopping three times to chant an acclamation, ‘The Light of Christ', to which the people respond 'Thanks be to God'. As the candle proceeds through the Church, all present (i.e. those who have received the ‘Light of Christ’) light candles, from the light of the Paschal Candle. As this symbolic ‘Light of Christ’ spreads throughout those gathered, the darkness is diminished.

Once the Candle has been placed on its stand in the sanctuary, a deacon proclaims the Exsultet (the Easter Proclamation), after which we listen to a Vigil of Bible Readings, tracing our story, from Creation, to Exodus and Resurrection. The Gloria and Alleluia, from which we have refrained during Lent, are both joyfully restored to our Worship, before we process to the Font, singing the Litany of Saints, remembering our Christian family in heaven. Baptismal Vows are then renewed, for which we have been preparing during Lent, before the first Holy Communion of Easter. The Dismissal is accompanied by the lighting of a Paschal Candle for St Mary’s, so the Light of Christ can be proclaimed throughout our Parish.

It is both my privilege and my joy, to invite you to be present at this Service, which is for the whole Parish. In word and silence, in song and acclamation, in shared action and the gifts of God himself, we celebrate Christ, who has burst through the deep waters of death for us. It is to the death of Christ and his Resurrection, proclaimed in this dawn Liturgy, that all our worship looks, as it proceeds on Easter Morning, and throughout the Easter season. For this is the Queen of Seasons, as we reflect on the Resurrection appearances of Christ in the Gospel, and as we move towards the Festivals of the Ascension and Pentecost.

As our Lenten pilgrimage draws near its goal, may the Lord strengthen us, that we may stand with hope at the Foot of the Cross, and with wonder and joy with Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb. May we celebrate with love the joyful 50 days of Easter, the Great Sunday.

Grant, Lord, that we who are baptized into the death
of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
may continually put to death our evil desires and be buried with him;
and that through the grave and gate of death
we may pass to our joyful resurrection;
through his merits,
who died and was buried and rose again for us,
your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Your friend and priest,
Father David