If you have not noticed we have a new addition to the sanctuary at Zion. It is almost unassuming at the front by the font. It is a large white candle and is called a Paschal Candle or Christ Candle. This candle was made as a gift to the congregation in memory of R. Marie Gregory by her family.
To understand why the church would have a Paschal Candle we have to understand the origins of the word paschal. Paschal is the Greek word used for the Passover. The Passover is the feast celebrated by the Jews as a reminder of God delivering the people out of slavery in Egypt. The Passover Feast reminded the people how God on the night when He went among the Egyptians and killed all the first born passed over all the Isrealites who had sacrificed a lamb and put the blood on the door posts and lentils. Here the Lord showed mercy to His chosen people.
Today as we see the Paschal Candle we are reminded how the Lord shows us mercy by the death of Christ as the sacrifice which covers us in the blood of the lamb and saves us from death and includes us in the resurrection of Christ. The Paschal Candle focus us on the resurrection of Christ and our own resurrection.
Also, we are reminded that Christ is the Light of the World. John calls Christ the light of the world and so when we light the Paschal Candle we are reminded the light has come into the world through Christ and is Christ.
The Candle is used at four times in the life of the church. The first is the Easter Vigil when we come together to await the resurrection of Christ. Second, is through the Easter Season as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Third, is at baptisms where we are brought into Christ’s death and resurrection. Finally, at funeral. There the Paschal Candle serves as a reminder even in the darkness of death we have the light of Christ and death has not had the final say. For the Christian death is only temporary because of Christ’s resurrection.
The use of the Paschal Candle is meant to draw our attention back to the Light of the Word in Christ Jesus who died for us and was raised by the glory of the Father so we too could be raised with Him. As we see the Paschal Candle we are reminded of this.