The Easter Season

April is the month for celebrating the resurrection. The Easter Season runs for fifty days until Pentecost. The gospel readings are the stories of Christ's resurrection appearances, ending with the story of his Ascension. It is interesting that we seem more keen to keep the solemn season of Lent than to celebrate the joyful season of Easter! The Sunday after Easter has the rather dreary name of Low Sunday. But we continue with white vestments and hangings to brighten things up, and also the Paschal Candle is lit at every Eucharist.

The Paschal Candle - the sign of new life, of resurrection - is also lit at every baptism when the newly baptised passes from darkness to light. We give each child their own "Paschal Candle" and say these words - "Receive this light, this is to show you have passed from darkness to light. Shine as a light in the world, to the glory of God the Father."

Following Easter Day is a week known as an Octave. This period of time occurs after major festivals and gives an opportunity for a richer daily celebration of the Eucharist, emphasizing the importance of the day beginning the Octave, in this case Easter Day. You can find the readings for each day of the Octave between pages 573 and 602 in the ASB. Reading particularly the gospel on each of those days will, I'm sure, enrich our understanding of and participation in the joy of the resurrection.

As soon as the Easter Octave is complete we keep the feast day of the Annunciation of our Lord to Mary p763 ASB. This is normally kept on March 25th (nine months before Christmas Day!) but was moved to this date because it fell in Holy Week this year. This event has been celebrated by the churches since the 5th century. It is a day of excitement and anticipation, this being the event that begins the intimate relationship of God with humanity, God made human.

April 25th is the day we commemorate St Mark the Evangelist, p765 ASB. Mark died about AD74. For some unknown reason this feast is of surprisingly late origin - 12th century, considerably later than the other Evangelists. Mark is mentioned in the New Testament as the companion of Peter, Paul and Barnabas. He may have become Bishop of Alexandria. It is thought that he was martyred and so vestments and hangings are red on this day.

Helen Walker, March 1997
St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 5th July 1997