Ancient Fire Ritual

Since I have become more intentional about my study of the history of Christianity, I have begun to notice relevant bits of information that pop up in the secular media.  I found another example today.

Today’s Arizona Republic newspaper contains an article entitled “Ancient fire ritual lures Christians to Jerusalem”.   This annual ceremony to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus goes back at least 1200 years.  Thousands of Christians gather to light candles and torches from a flame that emerges from the tomb of Jesus at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  They then pass the flame to other pilgrims waiting outside the church, symbolizing the light of Christ spreading around the world.  This long-standing ritual, which I had never heard of before, apparently attracts a wide range of participants – from Palestinian Christians to international pilgrims to clerics from a variety churches.  This reminds me again of the unity within diversity that has characterized Christianity around the world and through the ages.

The article also revealed that this event yesterday coincided with Easter celebrations for the Eastern Orthodox churches and several others that celebrate Easter this week using the older Julian calendar.  So Happy Easter … again!