Saturday, March 22, 2008

Christ rising in darkness

I enjoyed another day of quiet solitude in which to prepare for the Vigil and for tomorrow. With the sun shining for most of the day, it was very pleasant. I just out for an hour, just to shop and realised just how busy it was away from the tranquility of Queen Anne Square.

I set out an hour and a half early to get the church ready for the Vigil, only to be thwarted in obtaining access by car, as Westgate Street, next to the Stadium was closed off. I'd forgotten there was a Rugby tournament all day. It took me quite a while to extract myself from the congested traffic and find a parking place adjacent to City Hall. This meant that I had to carry the garden bucket to be used for the Easter fire, plus a sheaf of papers, unflied, and unprotected from the spotting rain, an extra four hundred yards down to the church. As I arrived spectators were starting to drift out of the stadium and through the city centre to find their buses and cars and get themselves home. By this time it was starting to get dark, then the handful of people arrived for the Vigil.

Our Easter ceremony is simple, and informal, kindling and blessing the fire (twigs and ferns from the Vicarage garden), lighting and processing with the Paschal Candle, singing the Paschal Proclamation and reading John's resurrection Gospel, renewing baptismal vows, singing the Te Deum, and departing with a blessing. There were eight of the stalwarts present. It was a quiet reflective occasion, and reminded me of similar Easter Eves back in Geneva, just half a dozen or so people, gathering in a church porch on a noisy busy street, with a draught of air and a smoky uncontrollable fire. Such a contrast to the morning that follows, and to the big cathedral events that follow much the same form. It means so much to me that could imagine being there on my own doing it if I had no takers. But there are always a few for whom this represents something wonderfully special.

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