Pascha 2008

Well, after all of my deliberation, I went to Pascha Saturday night along with Jacob and Elias.

For those of you unfamiliar with Eastern Orthodoxy, Pascha is our celebration of Easter, and is usually on a different weekend than Western Easter. Pascha is the greek form of the word Passover, and is calculated in a very similar way on the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar, which is why some years it is the same and some it is later.

The service starts at 11:30pm in a darkened church with prayers, readings, and hymns that harken back to Old Testament prefigurements of Christ (Jonah and the Whale, The burning bush, the three youths in the fire, Habbakuk, etc.). Then all of the lights are extinguished and the clergy start singing the Resurrection Hymn. Slowly from one lit candle passes it’s flame to everyone in the church and then a procession is made around the building with everyone singing. After that is a long, but joyous service that ends at 2:30am or so and after that we feast for a couple of hours and stagger home sleepy and full of the meat and dairy given up for Lent. Being that we are not teetotalers there was a decent amount of not only wine and beer, but also vodka and Jaeger shots.

At that point I went home and slept for a few hours and was back again at noon for a short Vespers service. Following that, we went to a family’s house for a huge party and I had more meat and drink. Well a few drinks; Bob has a bar in his house. I got home around 8pm yesterday and after nearly 24 hours of praying and partying I gratefully jumped into bed and slept until 7am this morning.

There were a few awkward moments, like when a guy who had been there maybe six months greeted me at the front door like I had never walked in the place before. Nice guy, but a surreal experience.

I think, though, that I will get back into going at least a couple of times a month. I’ve forgotten how nice the community is, and this is one of the few churches out there that combines ancient liturgies with modern views on many issues (evolution, gay church members, etc.). I’m still trying to work out a few issues of belief, but that will work itself out eventually or not.

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