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"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light..." (Ephesians 5:8)
Complete darkness surrounded me as I sat in the crowded ornately-decorated Eastern Orthodox church, a part of my heritage. I sat in anticipation, waiting, holding an unlit candle. What was it that would gather so many people together on a Saturday night just before midnight?
The air of expectation heightened as I waited for something to happen. The night before, Good Friday, the church had re-enacted the burial of Jesus, crucified at the hands of Roman soldiers. The solemn procession wound its way around inside the church. Hymns sung in the minor key were a reminder of the sadness, loss and fear the apostles must have felt when their friend, their teacher, their Lord was taken from them.
Suddenly, exactly at midnight, a priest emerged from behind the highly-decorated icon screen and altar, carrying a single brightly-lit candle and loudly proclaimed in Greek, "Christos Anesti!" (Christ is risen!) The congregation responded with "Alethos Anesti!" (Truly He is risen!). Slowly the flame was transferred from candle to candle, person to person. It flooded the building with a great brightness. No more darkness!
The joyous traditional Byzantine hymn, sung over and over repeatedly, emphasized the victory of Christ over evil, "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death under His feet, granting overflowing life to those in the tombs."
The candle I held, now lit, was meant to go home with me, carrying His light to the neighborhood and to all the world!This was a reminder of the Father's words to Jesus, "...I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth." (Isaiah 49:6) In addition, I remembered Jesus' words to us, "You are the light of the world" and "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14,16)
Blessings to you as we again observe our Lord's resurrection at this Paschal season and the promise of our resurrection to life eternally with Him. Carry His light!