Monday, March 9, 2015

To Keep Easter Visual Add a Ribbon to a Paschal Candle Each Week

Keeping Easter visually present in the sanctuary after the lilies are gone is challenging.  One way to meet the challenge is to tie symbol - bearing ribbons onto a paschal candle each week.  Children can be invited forward for the reading of the gospel and to see the ribbon related to that lesson as it is tied onto the candle.  Over the weeks the ribbons become reminders of all the ways we meet the risen Christ.

If you do not already use a paschal candle, this is an opportunity to introduce it.  One way to do this is to bring out the leftover advent wreath, lift the Christ candle out of it, place it on a prominent candle stand for the season to serve as the paschal candle.  Light it each week as you add the ribbon and read the gospel.

If a paschal candle is already part of your worship, simply add the ribbons to that candle as you read each gospel.  I suspect when you light the candle may already be proscribed – right?  

The ribbons for each Sunday

Easter Day:  There may be so much already packed into this service that it is best to introduce the candle on the Sunday after Easter.  If you do introduce it on Easter Day, tie a simple golden ribbon or strip of gold mesh to the base of the candle in the response to “He is alive!”

Second Sunday of Easter:  emphasize the story of Thomas with a gold ribbon with a gold hand at either end.  The hands may have a red wound in them.  These hands were cut from some gold foil gift wrap.

These faces were cut from fabric when
I could find no ribbon with human faces.
Third Sunday of Easter:  to highlight the gift of peace select a ribbon with peace symbols printed on it or add peace symbols to either end of a ribbon.  The one problem with this is that children tend to respond to the peace symbols with a giggly, “hey, peace man”.  To completely avoid this, focus on 1 John’s insistence that we are Children of God by tying on a ribbon or strip of cloth featuring faces or by putting face stickers at either end of a multicolored ribbon. 

Fourth Sunday of Easter: celebrate Jesus’ promise to be the Good Shepherd by tying on a piece of natural colored wool yarn or a strip of wool cloth.  If you have them, add a sheep sticker or figure to each end of the ribbon.

Fifth Sunday of Easter:   symbolize Jesus’ claim that he is the vine and we are the branches with something vine-y.  It could be a ribbon printed with a vine, a piece of vine-y fabric trim, of a loop of artificial vine. 

Sixth Sunday of Easter:  note Jesus’ command that we love one another as he has loved us with a ribbon printed with hearts or a plain ribbon with a heart at one end and a cross at the other.   

Ascension: note Jesus’ ascension to heaven with a golden mesh ribbon (like a golden cloud) tied at the upper end of all the ribbons.  (Yes, there might be the symmetry of a gold mesh ribbon at the bottom and the top of the candle.)  At the end of the service carry the candle down the central aisle and out into the world calling on worshipers to follow the risen Christ into the world.  (Help: someone with experience with paschal candles, how do you get them out of the sanctuary at the end of the Easter season?  I’ll bet there’s a plan – right?)

Seventh Sunday of Easter (if you do not observe Ascension Day on this Sunday):  If you have a small number of children, write their names on a ribbon using a thin Sharpie pen.  Tie the ribbon onto the candle as you invite the children and all worshipers to hear Jesus’ prayer for his first disciples and all disciples, even us.  (Be sure in advance that the pen will not smear into the ribbon.)

This sounds like lots of specialized ribbons, but I found what I needed for all of them all in a rummage through the church school supply closet and a trip to two craft stores in my area.   The width of the ribbons depends on the size of the candle.  The ribbons here are fairly thin to fit on the Christ candle from my home Advent wreath.  If you are not crafty, send someone who is on this mission with this list of ribbons and permission to adapt in response to what is available. 

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