It is 10:00pm. Here in Kabuga, Rwanda, the Easter Vigil has ended. The people rise from their pews, gather their belongings and begin heading toward the exit. The retinue of liturgical ministers has disappeared into the sacristy. Suddenly, a man runs up the steps of the sanctuary and lights his taper candle with the Paschal flame. He is just in time—the altar servers have returned to extinguish the altar candles. He descends from sanctuary with a big grin on his face.
Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King.
The man shares the light with a couple of his friends who then spread it to others around them. The children are delighted. Within a few seconds, more than half of those who remain in the church have their candles lit and are now bringing the flame to those outside.
Let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness.
There are no street lamps in this part of town and the outdoor space is poorly lit. The luminous glow of the candles dot the darkness, making it look as if the stars had descended among the people, many of whom are eagerly exchanging Easter greetings with one another.
Dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness.
Then saying their goodbyes, the people make their way out of the church compound and into the streets. Most parishioners are traveling home by foot. They unite in an impromptu candlelight procession as they go their separate ways, journeying on in the light of the Lord.
But now we know the praises of this pillar, which glowing fire ignites for God’s honor, a fire into many flames divided, yet never dimmed by sharing of its light.
O truly blessed night, when things of heaven are wed to those of earth and divine to the human.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!