Westminster has a tradition of the Paschal candle which burns in our sanctuary during Lent. The word paschal which Christians use to talk about the sacrifice of Christ comes from the word for Passover, the sacrifice of the spotless lamb in the Passover story of God’s liberation of our spiritual ancestors.
The candle represents Christ, and is adorned with many special symbols including the Greek letters Chi Rho, a triangle representing the Trinity and the Alpha and Omega, reminding us that God is the beginning and end of all things.
The candle reminds us that Christ is always keeping vigil with us. He dwells in our hearts, and he sits at the right hand of God making intercessions for us. Christ walks with us in the fearful, confusing, painful moments of our lives. Christ looks on us with the eyes of love as we live out our days.
During Holy Week we make a point to vigil with the Christ candle as we would vigil with Christ. Like the disciples who slept while Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, we might find our spirit is willing but the spirit is weak. Still, we do not despair of our human frailty, but look to Christ to strengthen us.
As Holy Week continues, we will be burning the Paschal candle throughout the day in our prayer chapel (whenever someone is present in the church to make sure it is safe). You are welcome to come by between 10am and 3pm Monday through Thursday this week to pray in the chapel. You can also come before our Good Friday service on Friday which starts at 7:00 pm. By the end of our Good Friday Service of Shadows, the candle will be burned low and then extinguished. The candle will be carried out of the sanctuary in silence and placed at the foot of the cross in a prayer garden we will create in the narthex. On Easter Sunday morning a new, perfect candle will be carried in and lit to help us celebrate the glory of the Resurrection.