In April it is Easter, and Easter is the highlight of the Church’s year, our most important festival. We have been preparing for this during the season of Lent, which began on Ash Wednesday (1 March) with the ancient sign of ashes placed on our foreheads to remind us of our mortality. The pace picks up as we move through Holy Week: an opportunity to remember the events in the last week of Jesus’ life. See below for the special services which help us commemorate the Last Supper, the suffering and death of Jesus, and the silence of Holy Saturday. These are ancient rituals which the Church has observed for many centuries – far older than any celebration of Christmas – and yet there is something fresh and new about them.
We arrive at Easter Day and everything resounds with an explosion of joy. ‘Alleluia, Christ is risen, Alleluia. He is risen indeed, Alleluia!’ We celebrate Christ newly risen from the darkness of the grave, we rejoice that he has defeated death and broken the power of sin. Sin is our human tendency to stuff things up. We see the signs of that every time we open a newspaper or turn on the TV news and are confronted with the latest accounts of disaster and atrocity. Yet this season assures us that because of Christ’s death and resurrection we can know that evil will never have the last word. Easter is the ultimate bringer of hope, and the best news of all.
We see this reflected in a whole host of Easter symbols. There is the Easter candle which is lit at every service (and always at baptisms and funerals): the symbol of the risen Christ who is the light of the world. There are eggs, the sign of new life. And there are butterflies, which burst forth from a dead-looking chrysalis radiant with colour and beauty.
Easter is not just ‘Easter Day’: it is the fifty days from Easter Day until the Day of Pentecost, which this year falls on Sunday 4 June. That means that we can go on celebrating Easter (and eating Easter eggs!) for several weeks.
And even when the season is over, let us always remember that as Church, we are an Easter people, and ours is an Easter faith. We are called to live each day as people who have been raised to new life in Christ. How do we express this new life in our words and our actions?
Rev Deborah Broome
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