The Easter Candle (Λαμπάδα)
It is approaching MIDNIGHT. The church is shrouded in darkness… only one solitary flame flickers gently in the altar unseen behind closed doors. Anticipation hangs in the air… Silence… as with bated breath we wait with unlit candles and prepare for the announcement from the Liturgist… “come receive the light from the never-setting light; and glorify Christ, Who has risen from the dead”. No longer does death have a hold, CHRIST IS RISEN!
The light spreads quickly as the community of faithful pass it on, person to person, candle to candle. The wonderful mystery of the Holy Light on Pascha is felt even more profoundly at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem every year.
St Simeon of Thessalonica (15th century) tells us: “as the burning candle illuminates the darkness, so must the light of Christ within us shine before men that God’s name be glorified”.
Our task on Pascha is to participate in spreading Christ’s light into the vast dark earth; to let our light shine and spread the good news of Christ who said: “I am the Light of the World, he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of Life” (Jn 8:12)
In the Orthodox tradition, the Easter Candle (Λαμπάδα) is given by the godparents to their godchildren as part of their spiritual upbringing. It should be a pure beeswax candle. God is merciful and gives us the flowers to enjoy and the bees to make honey of which we consume the sweet nectar, but in return we offer back to Him the wax that is left over. It is a custom also to take the Holy Light home to make a sign of the cross on the thresholds of our homes as a blessing.
When we go out into the darkness on Pascha night, the wind may blow out our flame. We turn to our neighbour and relight our flame, which we do in everyday life gathering strength and guidance from the faithful around us. Keep your candle lit!
Source: April–May 2015 Lychnos Edition