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Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

The Agape service at the Orthodox church was wonderful. It was yet another service that made me cry! I was not feeling sad or even repentant (those were other times that I cried). I was feeling joyful and blessed to be able to experience the universal aspect of the body of Christ, as several different people from the congregation stood in front of us, taking turns reading the same scripture in each of their own languages. The reading was from the Gospel of St. John 20:19-25. I think that we heard it read in Arabic, Mandarin, Laotian, French, English, Spanish, Russian, Greek(?) and Slavic(?). It was like the world was among us. And I felt so aware of God’s full presence in the world. It reminded me of Pentecost, when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues… and the people from all the different countries were hearing them speak in their native languages. Ah, sweet fellowship! I have included a picture of an Agape service at a Las Vegas Orthodox church. I found it on Google images, under Agape service. You can see that the doors to the Altar are wide open. I will include a link, below, to the Las Vegas Orthodox church’s page, so that you can see more of their pictures.                     Christ is Risen! Truly, He is Risen!

http://lasvegasorthodox.com/photos/Pascha_Agape_Service_200402.htmagape service

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Both in good ways and in bad ways I am feeling overwhelmed by Pascha, otherwise known as Easter or Passover, for Orthodox Christians. 

Just for the sake of getting my whining out of the way, I will tell you the bad ways that I am overwhelmed. Mainly it is physical. We have been to so many services at the church that I have lost count,  lost track of time and lost track of what day it is. I have that jittery feeling that I get, after having stayed up too long, working too hard on some school project. My body hurts from my neck, down my back and all the way to my feet.  We spend a lot of time standing… and standing… and standing. See how whiny that sounds! Another “bad” way I feel overwhelmed is ,,, well it is hard to pinpoint … but I think it is mental. There is so much information to absorb, so many songs to learn, so many questions to ponder without having space to get answers.

Now on to the GOOD stuff.  I am overwhelmed by the people who have shown us so much kindness and Christian love.  We recieved a very nice gift basket of food last night. We have made new friends that have already trusted us to have their child over for a sleep over and who have taken all four of our kids with them to a family birthday party! People smile at us when something funny happens in church, like we are insiders. (That is a big deal to me, to feel like an insider, like one who belongs)

More overwhelming than the pain or the people or the ponderings that my mind has to do… is the powerful, all consuming story of God on earth. It seems like every song, every bible verse, every chant, every prayer is pointing us to this story of Christ the God-man. He walked earth to show us how to live a life of obedience, even unto death on a cross. His life, His death, His resurrection is now my life, my death, my resurrection. I am in him and he is in me. This has been a very intense weekend, starting on Friday. I see the impact of doing this intense celebration rather than just seeing a passion play and then leaving to go to an Easter Party or a giant egg hunt at the park. The pain becomes real. The exhaustion becomes a thing you live with as Jesus entreats his disciples to watch and pray. The pain of his dear mother at the trial, scourging, crucifixion and burial becomes, in a way, your own pain. You are feeling pangs of hunger from the fast you are going through, as Jesus cries out that he is thirsty, but they give him vinegar. It becomes hard to be a spectator. You really feel like a participant. You can’t stop the smile that comes as you sing out LOUD… “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!” 

I have so much more to say but we need to get ready for the next service which starts at 2 PM. Yikes! I only have half an hour to get ready. 

Christ is Risen!  Truly, He is Risen!

 

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