Holy Fire in Lewisburg

ECHOES OF CHRISTIAN JERUSALEMOrthodox Christian Divine Liturgy in Lewisburg on Sunday morning May 14 will feature the Holy Fire, the Paschal (Easter) flame brought from Jerusalem to Orthodox Churches around the world. Also it will be at our Vespers service Saturday 13 at 5 p.m., same location.

This year was the first in which the Holy Fire was brought directly from Jerusalem to the United States. The Orthodox Paschal season lasts until Pentecost, during which time the traditional hymn and greeting “Christ is Risen!” are in use daily.

The Very Rev. Archpriest Fr. Claude Vinyard received the Holy Fire, which is transported in closed containers, and will have it on the altar during Sunday’s service of the Holy Protection Russian Orthodox Mission Parish, which meets in the Lewisburg Club, 131 Market St., as well as at Vesper prayers on Saturday at 5 p.m.

All are welcome to the services, which are in English, but draw on centuries-old Orthodox traditions from the early Church in the Holy Land and Eastern Mediterranean and Africa.

The Holy Fire in Orthodox Christian tradition occurs every year at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Holy Saturday, the day before Pascha (Orthodox Easter). It has been documented consecutively since 1106, but a fourth-century historan’s account records it happening in the mid second century.

The ceremony begins at noon when the Patriarch of Jerusalem or another Orthodox Archbishop recites a specific prayer. The faithful gathered will then chant “Lord, have mercy” (Kyrie eleison in Greek) until the Holy Fire descends on a lamp of olive oil held by the patriarch while he is alone in the tomb chamber of Jesus Christ. The patriarch will then emerge from the tomb chamber, recite some prayers, and light candles to distribute to the faithful.

The fire is also said to spontaneously light other lamps and candles around the church. Pilgrims say the Holy Fire will not burn hair, faces, etc., in the first 33 minutes after it is ignited. Before entering the Lord’s Tomb, the patriarch or presiding archbishop is inspected by Israeli authorities to prove that he does not carry the technical means to light the fire. This investigation used to be carried out by Turkish soldiers.

For more information on Holy Protection Mission Parish, please see holyprotectionchurch.net

Background here on the Holy Fire is adapted from the Orthodox Wiki article “Holy Fire,” https://orthodoxwiki.org/Holy_Fire
For more information, please call 570-523-8876


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