Christ is Risen!
Tá Criosd ar éirigh!
A Blessed Pascha (Orthodox Easter) to all Orthodox Christians and Christians everywhere. This marks the first year I have been able to attend the Resurrection Liturgy & Rush Service and what a privilege to share this joy with my 6 year old daughter!
The night began for us @ 10:30 pm, as we wanted to be sure and find a seat near the front of the church. By 11:00 pm, the church was full as the faithful came out to worship in celebration the high-point and cornerstone of our Christian faith, the blessed Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!
Before leaving home, I prayed to God to help Josie & I endure the fatigue of the night...to renew our energy and bless us through the liturgy. Praise Him for his tender mercies; our hearts and minds were blessed and it was my little girl who led us onward through the night.
For her sake, I was willing to go for only the Rush Service, to commemorate Christ’s death, His descent to Hell to free the captives there, and His glorious Resurrection. But it was Josie who, although very tired, asked to stay to receive Communion during the Liturgy which followed.
The atmosphere in God’s house was mostly sombre with a joyful anticipation quietly palpable. We brought our candles from home, which the kids had made on Lazarus Saturday and at the appointed time, followed the faithful out of a darkened church - symbolizing the death and darkness of the earth when Christ said, “It is finished” - into a procession outdoors in front of the church.
The sweetness of loving, reverent voices on the night air as we sang the Trisagion Hymn and Troparion was otherworldly...angels must have hovered near to sing amongst us. Truly, the human voice, that first instrument of praise to God, shines like diamonds when united with the chants and hymnography of the ancient faith.
After the procession we came round to the front door and watched as the service continued with the Bishop holding the long candlesticks while singing the liturgy and the priest knocking on the door of the church shouting, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates, yea lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in!” As we enter again into the sanctuary, all is lit and the atmosphere is charged with exultation and triumph! The Bishop repeatedly says, “Christ is risen” and we joyfully reply, “Truly He is risen!”
The Resurrection Liturgy follows and soon Josie & I are in line to be received at the Lord’s Table. What gifts He gives, what blessings flow from the King of Heaven, the Creator of all! He has defeated death by death and we are welcome at the Court of Christ. I might have stayed in that blessed and peaceful place for a very long time...
But, too soon it is over and we are invited to break the fast together. I look at Josie, thinking she is all-too-ready to call it a night, but I’m wrong. She wants to attend the church breakfast; it’s especially appealing since one of her friends is there, too. What a feast! We had scrambled eggs, thick slices of ham, fresh fruit and biscuits, cereal and Lebanese cookies. We ate and visited with our church family for close to an hour and arrived back home some minutes after 3 a.m. Josie was sound asleep by then, but I felt renewed, overjoyed ...at peace. We serve an awesome God; Praise Him for all things!
Truly He is Risen!
go deimhin tá sé éirithe!
*photograph shows our candles made on Lazarus Saturday during the Rush Service
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