On the night of Saturday 7th April, we welcomed two new members into the Church – Rosemary and Sheely – through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, and a further two – Christine and Colin – who had both been baptised as children – were confirmed.
This was part of the great liturgy of the Easter Vigil, in which we celebrate the Resurrection in a two-hour ceremony which begins outside the church around the blazing Easter fire. The Easter Candle is lit from the fire, and then carried into the dark church to represent the light of Christ shining in the darkness. The people follow the light into the church, each holding a small candle that has been lit from the Easter candle, and then, after the Easter Proclamation, the Exsultet, sit in darkness hearing a series of readings and singing psalms that tell the story of our salvation, from the creation, to the Exodus from Egypt, through the Prophets, to the death and Resurrection of Jesus. At the moment when the Resurrection is proclaimed, bells are rung, the Gloria is sung, and all the church’s candles and lights are lit.
This is followed by the blessing of the baptismal water, during which we sing the Litany of the Saints, and affirm our faith in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, before we accept new members into that faith in the liturgy of Baptism and Confirmation. The whole congregation is sprinkled with the baptismal water before we proceed with the solemn celebration of the Eucharist, at which our new members receive communion for the first time.
After the long ceremony we repaired to the hall for some refreshments – a glass of wine and a slice of cake – a special cake that had been baked for the occasion and decorated with the symbols of the three sacraments Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist – the Cross, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, tongues of fire, the Eucharistic bread and the chalice.