Easter

The empty tomb


The Easter Season begins on Easter Day and lasts fifty days, ending at Pentecost. It is a 'moveable feast' because the date of it is fixed according to the moon - it can fall on or between 21 March and 25 April. The first week of the Easter Season is known as Easter Week. Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of fasting, prayer, and penance. It is the oldest and the most important Christian festival celebrating the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The church colour for season of Easter is white (or gold) and represents the light, joy and purity of Christ.

What happens at St James's

The Sunrise Service in the courtyardAt dawn we gather in the courtyard for a special Sunrise Service (a celebration of light). An open fire is lit and blessed by the priest and when the Paschal candle is lit, the people ceremoniously enter the dark church.

Then later on Easter Sunday, at 09.30, as Christians, we gather together for the Easter Eucharist which is a particularly joyful service. All the resources of the church are used to celebrate Christ’s resurrection - music, flowers, bells, colour. Easter hymns use the word ‘alleluia’ (a word not used at all in worship during Lent) with great frequency.

The Easter GardenSt James's, like other churches, makes an Easter Garden, recreating in miniature the place where Jesus was buried. This adds to the beautiful decorations in the church for this most important and significant festival. A stone is placed across the mouth of a tomb before Easter, then rolled away on Easter morning, leaving an empty tomb (see right and above). 

Easter eggs symbolise new life and at St James's there is a basket of eggs and two Easter Egg hunts for the children after the service. 

As Easter is not just one day, but a season, the Easter Candle burns at all celebrations of the Eucharist from Easter Day, beginning with the celebration of the Easter Vigil, right through until the day of Pentecost, at the very end of the Easter season. It is the principal symbol of the resurrection during the Easter season. After the celebration of the Eucharist at Pentecost, the Easter Candle is placed near the font in the baptistry. It is then lit again at services which point people to new life in Christ - baptisms and funerals.

Background

Jesus had told his disciples before he was arrested that he would be crucified and on the third day he would rise from the dead. On the first Good Friday Jesus was crucified and after he died his body was removed from the cross, wrapped in linen and buried in a tomb. A large heavy stone was rolled in front of the entrance and the guards kept watch to ensure that no-one could steal the body. At dawn, three days later, several women visited the grave only to discover that the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty (see above). Jesus himself was seen that day, and for some days afterwards by different people and his followers realised that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Easter egg huntFind out more

2017 Easter Sunday (photo album)
Easter Day (service booklet)
Easter Season (service booklet)
Devastating Beauty (Easter poem recorded in St James's Church)
Easter flowers (photos)