Over the past week I have enjoyed the rare (for me) opportunity to celebrate Holy Week with my local Russian Orthodox parish.
For most of my life, I have not lived within any reasonable travelling distance of an Orthodox church. And until this week, I had never attended a single Orthodox service.
What a rich celebration of Christ’s Resurrection!
My own church doesn’t really celebrate any holidays — certainly not any of the traditional Christian holidays. A handful of holy days punctuate the calendar (about sixteen of them), but none of them is really festive and few of my coreligionists would even recognize them as holidays.
Yet most of my coreligionists celebrate holidays on their own and firmly believe their celebrations are part of their religion. They all celebrate Christmas and Easter in their families. They’d be offended if someone told them that their church doesn’t really believe in celebrating those holidays. Yet a person could easily sit in church all day on Easter Sunday and never hear anyone extend an Easter greeting — or possibly even make a direct reference to the Resurrection — and not feel like anything important was missing.
I wish I could drag them all to a midnight Orthodox Pascha service so they could see the extent to which we don’t celebrate Easter in our church.
I can see good reasons to not celebrate holidays in church. But I am grateful to the Orthodox for keeping vibrant ecclesial celebrations alive and letting the rest of us share in them. After all,
Christ is risen!