Why is lighting the Easter fire usually the first part of the vigil and first mass of Easter, coming before the vigil readings? I have attended churches where the vigil readings come first, with the church still in darkness, and it seems to make much more liturgical sense this way round: we wait in darkness and hear the promise of God’s redemption, then go and light the Easter fire.
The new fire lit at the start of the Easter liturgy makes sense both historically and theologically.
Historically: the Early Church would have met by a river, and would have lit a fire for warmth and light before reading the great stories of salvation history before candidates were baptised.
Theologically: we read the Old Testament in the (almost literal) light of the New.
There is a whiff of anti-Semitism about reading the Jewish scriptures in darkness as if to say that Christianity is “the real deal” when the lights go on.
Derek Jay (Reader)
What is the best way for a church to provide affirmation and support for bisexuals? [Answers, 16 June]
It is heartening that the questioner wants to ensure that his or her church is welcoming to everyone, particularly someone who might arouse difficult feelings in some of their fellow churchgoers.
There are several organisations, such as Inclusive Church, Affirming Catholicism, and Accepting Evangelicals, which, I am sure, will be able to provide specific advice on how to do this.
Nevertheless, I don’t think it is helpful to focus, as the answer given last week does, on the person’s sexual relationships. Would you assume that the prime need of any other newcomer who started attending church was instruction about sex and morals?
Avoid making judgements, accept the person as he or she is, and offer friendship and spiritual support — while also thinking about other members of the congregation, and how they can be helped to understand and show love to the new enquirer, too.
Frank McManus unhelpfully seems to equate bisexuality with at least potential sexual promiscuity, and his simplistic views belong to another age. These are words of condemnation, and do not even begin to answer the question in a Christian way.
A better answer might be to point the questioner in the direction of the LGBT Foundation (https://lgbt.foundation/), which has both excellent and helpful resources and advice on its website. I would recommend the questioner take the information on this website as a starting-point.
(The Revd) Steve Bennett (Chaplain, St Edmund’s School)
Frank McManus’s answer was anything but affirming.
Bisexuals can often appear invisible, because we tend to make assumptions about a person based on who they are in relationship with. Just being in an opposite-sex marriage does not make someone heterosexual. If a married person comes out as bisexual, he or she is being honest about his or her own identity; it does not mean that there is a problem in that marriage.
If a person is single and dating, and brings a succession of boyfriends and girlfriends to church, praise his or her missionary zeal and wish the relationships well.
Direct bisexual people to biblical passages that are affirming, and bisexual role-models, such as King David. Above all else, tell them that God loves them and that they are welcome in your church.
A friend of mine is confused about the chronology of Holy Week and Easter. Matthew 12.38-40 states that the Son of Man would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Mark 9.31 states that the Son of Man three days after being killed will rise again. In Luke 24.21, the Emmaus resident says: “it is now the third day since these things took place.” Why has the Church traditionally observed Friday as the day of crucifixion and Sunday as that of the resurrection? This is not three days and three nights.
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