Bonfires and candles

One of the many great things about being a Protestant married to a Catholic is that you get to do all the great festivals twice - and there is nothing to beat a good Easter Vigil. Our catholic church does it on Easter Eve - lighting the brazier outside in the gathering gloom, cars swishing past on the main road and a distant police siren as we process into a darkened church with lighted candles. I have been asked to open the readings with the great creation chapters from Genesis, the challenge being to give the familiar words poetry, rhythm and interest.

Francesca sings in the choir - they begin with a beautiful piece by Rutter. Then the confirmation of baptism vows, and the soothing litany of catholic saints, some familiar, some rather obscure, Agnes, Perpetua, Athanasius, Gregory, John Vianney, John, Thomas (good to have a comma there) and finally home late to the first licit drink.

Our Anglican church does it on Easter morning at dawn. On alternate years they do it on a local hillside to get the sunrise, but this year we are in the village churchyard with the dawn chorus of birdsong. The Rector lights a much bigger bonfire than the Romans with a pillar of smoke and sparks which aims unerringly at those in the congregation foolish enough to be standing downwind. We process down the length of the outside of the church, into the west door and then with candles to the sanctuary for an intimate and moving communion service singing to the accompaniment of the piano.

All very satisfying - and if one of us is truly in Error, bets have been hedged. And I was home in time to ensure the Easter bird had done her duty round the garden. Happy Easter everyone!

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