Dear People of the Diocese of New Jersey,
Alleluia! Christ is risen! Happy Easter! According to the Venerable Bede, author of
The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, the word "Easter" is Anglo-Saxon and refers to a goddess of spring. Most of the world uses the word
Pascha to refer to the observance of the Lord's Resurrection. The word Pascha is related to the word for Passover, God's saving actions with Israel.
Pascha is God's new saving event in Jesus Christ.
The rhythm of the liturgical year is powerful and filled with significance. We have entered The Great Fifty Days of Easter. Yes, Easter is not only a day, it is a festal season. We cast off the purple and put on white! We have been on our knees in penitence for the forty days of Lent, now we stand and celebrate for fifty days until the feast of Pentecost - the fiftieth day! In many churches today, it is customary to stand for the Eucharistic prayer throughout The Great Fifty Days. It symbolizes that we have been redeemed by Christ and his resurrection. Churches will light the paschal candle throughout the fifty days, symbolizing the presence of the living Christ. We will begin and end our services with shouts of
Throughout these fifty days in church, we will read and hear the Gospel witness to Christ's resurrection. It is a powerful story that has saving news for each of us. As you celebrate the Great Fifty Days in your home and with your church, join in the words of the wonderful hymn:
This joyful Eastertide, away with sin and sorrow!
Easter blessings to you and yours.
Blessings and love to you all,
The Right Reverend William H. (Chip) Stokes, D.D.
Bishop of New Jersey