So… we made a Paschal candle. It is beautiful, slightly imperfect and full of character. This two foot wonder tells the story of our gathered community. All of our old candles – altar candles from weekly worship, beeswax vigil candles from Christmas Eve, taper candles from festival Sundays – all of these were melted and molded to become our new paschal candle. And it is beautiful.
Fire has long been a sign of God’s presence. Moses found God in the burning bush. The Israelites followed a pillar of fire through the wilderness. Our Jewish ancestors lit lamps in the tabernacle and sacrificial fires on the altar of the temple. Fire was precious, and essential to life – for warmth, for food, for illumination. Jesus captured the essence of light and fire to be a reminder of divine presence. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Throughout the season of Lent, we tread cautiously through the darkness. We acknowledge the dim corners of this world and hold out hope for the light of life. In Holy Week, we continue to walk with Jesus in his last days. On Good Friday, the darkness closes in and it seems that all hope is lost. And then, Christ lights our way out of the darkness – from death to life.
On Easter Sunday, we light our new Paschal candle, a reminder that Christ is indeed the light of the world, the light no darkness will overcome. This Easter we gather to celebrate the sacrament of Holy Baptism. The light of the Paschal candle, the light of Christ, extends in blessing to the newly baptized, “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). This invitation is granted to each of us in baptismal living – and the light of Christ grows.
Throughout the fifty days of Easter, the Paschal candle stays illuminated – a reminder of our enduring resurrection hope. And then, on Pentecost, the light extends to the people as tongues of fire rest upon them and they are filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3-4). God’s church is set ablaze with the Spirit – and the light of Christ grows.
The light of Christ knows no bounds. This little light has the power to illuminate the world – casting out darkness and dispensing the shadows. This is the light of life – Jesus, our Savior. Thanks be to God.