Hello all! It’s been a while since I posted, for which I apologize; personal struggles have gotten between me and my blog.
Last Saturday night, I participated in an Easter Vigil service at my home congregation. For those of you who don’t know, the Easter Vigil is a worship service that takes place the night before Easter, celebrating all of God’s creative and redeeming activity from the creation of the world through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Since it takes place after dark, by the Jewish calendar which Christ and the early disciples used it’s already Easter. Although it will not be announced to the world until morning, Jesus Christ is risen and the tomb is empty.
Easter Vigil starts off with a fire, outside. The Paschal/Christ Candle for the coming year is lit from the flame and the pastor holds it up, chanting “The Light of Christ!” The congregation responds “The Light of Christ!” Each holds a candle. The Christ Candle lights a few, and those light the flames of others in turn. As the flame is passed from person to person, the one giving the flame says “The light of Christ!” and the one receiving the flame says “Thanks be to God!”
The congregation then processes to the church and inside. Now, this year there was a bit of a wind that night, and so peoples’ candles kept blowing out. But every time a candle blew out, the person next to them gave them a new flame. “The Light of Christ!” “Thanks be to God!”
It struck me that this is a metaphor for the Christian life. We don’t create our own fire, our own light, our own faith. It is given as a gift from God, often through the care and attention of those around us–parents, friends, mentors. Christian means “little Christ.” As part of our Christian lives we are called to be “little Christs” to our neighbors. As we have been given light, so we are to share that light with all around us. So far, everything seems great, right? But as wonderful as it is to have the light of Christ in us, to be light for the world, we can’t sustain that light on our own. The trials of life sometimes blow it out. But through God’s grace, those around us can share their light with us, and help rekindle the flame of faith within us. As we are called to be “little Christs” to them, so they are called to be “little Christs” to us. This is most certainly true within the community of faith, but also outside of it. Many times, it is the ones outside our communities of faith that are most in need of Christ’s light. And many times, the light of Christ comes to us from people and places that we least expect.
Now, I realize that the world is a broken, sinful place, and because of that sin Christ’s light doesn’t always seem to work like that. Sometimes, there isn’t anyone around when we need help the most. (Sometimes, the ones around us who should be the ones to help kindle that flame are the very ones causing the winds that blow it out.) But for the most part, it works pretty well. It’s one of the reasons that we have congregations and other communities of faith, why participating in the faith life of a group of fellow believers is so important. So that when you feel the light of Christ in you and around you is dimming or has gone out, you already know who you can go to for spiritual renewal and support. We form communities so that you can be renewed by Christ working through those around us, and when others need help we can be a “little Christ” to our neighbors in turn.