Easter

The Easter Liturgy has included baptism or the renewal of baptismal promises from the earliest times. Those who are baptized are united with Christ in his death and resurrection.

Traditionally, new fire is kindled and from this the Easter candle is lit and held aloft with the proclamation: 'The light of Christ'. This Easter liturgy can provide a real experience of new life. This passing from darkness to light offers hope to all the faithful, as the Church celebrates the risen Christ.

The season of Easter is celebrated for fifty days culminating in the feast of Pentecost. Since the late fourth century, on the fortieth day there has been a kind of staging-post celebrating Christ's ascension to heaven. This marks the end of his earthly ministry and it is therefore closely connected with the theme of mission. Matthew's Gospel ends with Jesus's final words to his disciples, that they should go to all nations and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28.19-20).

In John's Gospel, Jesus instructed his followers to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit (John 14.15-17). The feast of Pentecost celebrates the account of the Holy Spirit coming on the disciples empowering them for mission (Acts 2:1-47). Ascension and Pentecost are closely linked. The Church is now to be the new body of Christ, filled with his life through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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