Easter Vigil 2014
Light is everywhere the symbol of joy and of life-giving power, as darkness is of death and destruction. Fire, the most mysterious and impressive of the elements, the giver of light and of all the good things of life, is a thing sacred
We gather in darkness on Holy Saturday evening. We gather to listen to the story of how God brought light out of darkness at the very beginning and how God's pillar of cloud and fire lead his people through the desert. We celebrate the way in which God set his people free in the story of the Exodus, and we listen to all those prophecies of how God will honour his work and his word and bring it to completion in Jesus. And so we are drawn into the great mystery of Easter, we come to the point when the lights are fully on, the candles are all lit and we can celebrate a light that has dawned again on the world. We've been taken on a journey all week from darkness to light, from the darkness of not really understanding ourselves to the light of seeing God's face clearly and seeing ourselves; from the darkness of recognising our own failures and our sins into the light of hope and forgiveness. And that is why as the first Eucharist of Easter begins we pull all the stops out quite literally, the organ plays, the bells ring and we recognise that the journey for this week, for this time, is over. We've come home to where Jesus is. The risen Jesus is standing with God the Father pouring out in the Holy Spirit his love on the world and we just stand there for a moment at Easter receiving that, basking in it as you might say. We've come on a journey, we've come home and we know that that home is always there for us in the accepting, compassionate love of God which has paid the ultimate sacrifice to make peace between heaven and earth.
THE BEGINNING OF THE EXSULTET IN LIBER USUALIS
O truly blessed night, worthy alone to know the time and hour when Christ rose from the underworld!??
This is the night of which it is written: The night shall be as bright as day, dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness.??
The sanctifying power of this night dispels wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners, drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.??
On this, your night of grace, O holy Father, accept this candle, a solemn offering, the work of bees and of your servants' hands, an evening sacrifice of praise, this gift from your most holy Church.??
But now we know the praises of this pillar, a flame divided but undimmed, which glowing fire ignites for God's honour, ?a fire into many flames divided, yet never dimmed by sharing of its light, for it is fed by melting wax, drawn out by mother bees to build a torch so precious.??
O truly blessed night, when things of heaven are wed to those of earth, and divine to the human.??
Therefore, O Lord, we pray you that this candle, hallowed to the honour of your name, may persevere undimmed, to overcome the darkness of this night. Receive it as a pleasing fragrance, and let it mingle with the lights of heaven. May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star: the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ your Son, who, coming back from death's domain, has shed his peaceful light on humanity, and lives and reigns for ever and ever.?