Thursday, April 24, 2008

Get thee to the Church!

Here's an open invitation to all non-Orthodox readers and friends. If what you like is "Christ-centered, Cross-focused" stuff, tonight is your big chance to get that as you never have before, any time, anywhere. Tonight, in Orthodox churches, every passage from every Gospel is read that deals with Christ's passion and death. These readings are interspersed with prayers and hymns. In other words, it's a bit like an Anglican service of "Lessons and Carols," except concerning the end instead of the beginning of His earthly life. And we aren't going to be immersing ourselves in Scripture just for one measley hour, either.

Wear sturdy shoes. We respectuflly stand during the reading of the Gospel, and tonight, there are going to be twelve such readings. They are arranged (far as I can tell) from longest to shortest.

Then tomorrow night comes my favorite service of the year. Sorry, that probably makes me a heretic. I do recognize that the Pascha service, the Anastasis, is the most important, but I love the Friday night service the very best of them all. If you want a Holy and Great Friday service that uplifts instead of depressing you, that is centered around the theme of Christ's "harrowing of Hades," come participate in the awesome readings and hymns and prayers. Come join us as we offer God the Encomia (wrongly translated, "Lamentations"). It's unlike anything else in this world.

Be sure to pick up a candle in the narthex before going into the sanctuary.

Then come by 11:30 (latest) Saturday night for what Westerners would call the Easter Vigil, and we call the Anastasis, the Resurrection services, overflowing with light and joy, and again, unlike anything else. Not to be missed. If you can't come to any other service, try to get to this one!

Don't plan on getting home any time soon after any of these, especially the Anastasis. In fact, if you're over about 40, try to get a nap Saturday afternoon! Church won't end much before 2 a.m., probably later. If the parish you attend has a communal feast afterwards in the parish hall, YES, you are most definitely invited! You'll have such a wonderful time that you will finally crawl into bed just about the time the sun is thinking about getting up.

Okay, if you can't do that, because it would mean missing your own church later that morning, then at least come for the first hour; that is, from about 11:30 until about 12:30. It will be well worth being somewhat tired afterward!

P.S.) On Saturday night, you can greet people by saying, "Christ is risen!" They will reply, "He is risen indeed!" If you go to a Greek church, say "Christos anesti!" (Krree-STOS ah-NES-ti). If you go to a church where the services are in Old Slavonic, it's "Christos voskryesi!" (Kree-STOS vohs-krree-YES-ee). Or if someone says any of these to you, just reply, in English, "He is risen indeed!"

Tonight and tomorrow night, an appropriate greeting in Greek is, "Kalo Pascha!" (Kah-LOW PAS-cha!), meaning "Good Easter [to you]!"



Shamassy Monica said...

What a great description. Wish I had read it sooner and emailed it to several friends.

I've always wished my non-Orthodox family could enjoy the beauty of these 3 nights, especially the family that I know really seek Christ.


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

I wish I had posted it earlier!

Anonymous said...

I went to Thursday and Friday nights, and stood during both, except for the short homily (sitting on the floor with the rest of the parish) and the kneeling parts Thursday. Good thing I get off of my standing job to do this so I leave on my comfy shoes (I have a bad habit of wearing restricting shoes at the least opportune times).