Lent ends at sunset on this day. It is a day of quiet and hopeful expectation, the final getting ready for Easter.
The Service of The Light
A "new fire" is lit in the courtyard at 6am on Sunday mormning, symbolizing the new light of Christ, risen again. We give thanks for the fire, asking that it may be a sign of God's presence and that we may be set aflame with God's love. From the fire, we light the new Paschal candle.
Taking the candle, the priest traces a cross on it, the Greek letters Alpha and Omega and the numbers of the current year. Then the priest places nails at the extremities and centre of the cross that is painted on the candle, praying that, by his wounds, Christ may guard and keep his people.
The sanctuary candles are lit from the Paschal candle and the light is passed through the congregation from one person to the next, so that everyone has a small candle each.
Then a minister sings the Exultet, an ancient chant that reminds us of our links to the Israelites' exodus from Egypt.
After the Exultet, we sit in the candle light for readings and psalms that recall how God saved God's people throughout history, and in the fullness of time sent his Son to be our redeemer.