Pascha: Indeed He Is Risen

pascha eggs

Orthodox Christians held their Easter celebration this past weekend, much later than the rest of Christendom. Rather than a lot of description and detail, I wanted to give some impressions of my first Pascha. If you’d like a detailed account of what happens during a Pascha service this is a great read.

• After weeks of the priest wearing increasingly dark vestments and of dirge-like singing, the Pascha service is full of bright white garments and joyful shouts of “Christ is risen!” and the response, “Indeed He is risen!” The joy of experiencing the risen Lord in such a vibrant, immediate way is like nothing in Protestantism.

• The moment our priest removed the plashchanitsa (an embroidered cloth representing Christ’s burial) from the wooden tomb placed at the front of the church, my heart leapt. This was the moment our hymns of His death would cease, and our celebration of His shattering the grip of death and Hell would begin. No passion play or Easter sermon could ever be more vivid.

• Our priest must be exhausted. The work he puts in throughout the Lenten season and Holy Week are worthy of our gratitude. Though I could see the weariness on his face as the Paschal celebration wound down around 4:00 a.m., he never stopped smiling and guiding his flock through the process of celebrating the Resurrection. There’s an old Orthodox saying: “Christ is risen, and the priest is dead!” Thank God ours is living still.

• After binging on meat and dairy for a couple of days, I have a new respect for vegan living, and plan to maintain a less meaty diet in the future. Don’t get me wrong; meat and dairy are not a sin. But Orthodoxy is helping teach this Southern boy that all things should be in moderation. Even country fried steak.