Bright is the silver, bright is the gold, under the light of the Easter candles. Each face alights before the holy candles, that Christians bear in hand.

This excerpt from the poem “The Day of Easter” draws its imagery from the ritual celebration of the Easter mysteries within the Orthodox faith tradition. It echoes our own liturgy as well at the Easter Vigil: At the start of the celebration, the community enters into the dark church, lead by the light of the Easter candle, carrying their own small candles of light as we hear intoned three times, “Christ our light!” It is the movement from the darkness of the tomb into the light of dawn, the rising of the Day Star, Christ Himself, the light of the world, conquering death by His own death on the cross and now rising from the grave. He is our light and our salvation, the dawn from on high which breaks upon us “to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Lk 1:79).

Over the centuries, many poems have been written in addition to the beautiful prayers, songs, and rituals of the Easter celebration in both the Latin and Orthodox rites. Sometimes these poems are captured in the hymns we sing within the Easter season, sometimes they sit within a secondary canon of imagination and faith. Among many, I came across the poem excepted above from the pen of the Greek national poet, Dionysios Solomos, and was intrigued by the poem not only because of its imagery from within the Orthodox tradition but because it is an unfinished poem. Indeed, all of Solomos’ poems, save one which became the Greek national anthem, are unfinished. It’s not clear why he never finished his poems. There is no reason from history left to consider.

Still it hasn’t stopped me from considering (as I am want to do) in the unfinished nature of this poem this truth we share — that while the Easter event of Christ’s resurrection in itself was a complete moment of salvation, the offer of salvation that flows from His life, death, and resurrection to all of creation and to each one of us is not yet complete. Salvation is both a “now” and a “not yet,” offered to us now but not yet completed in time. Still as we stand in our churches this Easter morn in the glow of the light of the paschal candle, we know that “Christ is our light” who can lead us out of darkness into His wonderful light through the Easter sacraments: the rebirth of baptism, our anointing in the Holy Spirit, and our celebration of Eucharist. That is, if we will let Him do so.

May God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit bless this day!

Sincerely yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Christopher J. Coyne

Bishop of Burlington

—Originally published in the April 8-14, 2023, edition of The Inland See.