Sleaford Parish Church 

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Alleluia, Christ is risen!

Posted on 26 April, 2019 at 5:50

At 5.30a.m. we gathered outside the church. The morning was not too chilly, although there had been an early fog as I drove to the church. Because of the lateness of Easter this year even at 5.30 there was more light than we normally experience as we gathered around the watchman’s brazier. The Pascal candle was lit from the fire and carried into the still dark church. As the candle was lifted above the font the sound rang out – The Light of Christ!

The sunrise service is, for me, the highlight of the year. The drama of the service is augmented by the forces of nature. We proclaim The Light of Christ whilst it is still dark but soon the light of our candle is augmented by the risen sun. the light of our candle become superfluous in the full light of day. I always think of this service in dramatic terms – the liturgy is brought to life with movement and light, with taste and smell (it is one of the services where we use incense). We journey from the churchyard to the font and from the to the nave. After hearing the Gospel, we process through all the side chapels, before arriving at the high altar to receive the first communion of Easter.

But it is this movement from darkness to light that makes this service special. On our journey we always stop at the font – the place of baptism. Here we are buried with Christ and his death (being dipped in the water) and rise to new life with him. Baptism tells the story of the crucifixion and resurrection. That is why the newly baptised are given a candle (the Light of Christ) and why the Pascal Candle stands near the font for most of the year.

The darkness of Good Friday is vanquished on Easter morn. The light of the risen Christ now shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. But we live in a world where the darkness can seem very dominant: Christians murdered in their church in Sri Lanka as they celebrated Easter, is but one example of some many things that are happening in our world today. But that is why we need to sing: Alleluia, Christ is Risen!

It is because Christ is risen, because of Easter that we have hope. The powers of darkness have been vanquished and the Light of Christ is with us today. This is the hope of the world. And as the light drove the darkness out of the church building on Master morn we pray for that day when the light of Christ will shine so brightly in this world that all will know that the risen Christ is Lord.

Happy Easter,

Fr Philip

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