Posts Tagged 'easter'

Lazarus Saturday, Holy Week, and Pascha at All Saints Orthodox Church, Bloomington, Indiana

Here is the schedule for tonight through next Sunday at All Saints in Bloomington. If All Saints is the closest Orthodox church to you and you’re an Orthodox Christian, please, by all means consider yourself welcome. If you’re not an Orthodox Christian, absolutely, by all means consider yourself welcome as well. If you’ve never been to an Orthodox service before, this is the week to do it. Please come find me and say hi — I’m the big guy in a black cassock chanting.

Friday, 6 April

  • Akathist to St. Lazarus at 6:00

Saturday, 7 April

  • Baptisms/Chrismations at 9 a.m.
  • Divine Liturgy at 10 a.m.
  • Great Vespers with litia and artoklasia at 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, 8 April

  • Palm Sunday Matins at 8:50; Divine Liturgy at 10:00
  • Bridegroom Matins at 6:00pm

Monday, 9 April

  • Presanctified Liturgy at 9:00am
  • Bridegroom Matins at 6pm

Tuesday, 10 April

  • Presanctified Liturgy at 9:00am
  • Bridegroom Matins at 6pm

Wednesday, 11 April

  • Presanctified Liturgy at 9:00am
  • Holy Unction at 6pm

Thursday, 12 April

  • Divine Liturgy of Holy Thursday at 9am
  • Matins for Holy Friday (Reading of the 12 Passion Gospels), 6pm

Friday, 13 April

  • Royal Hours, 9am
  • Great Vespers of Holy Friday, 3pm
  • Lamentations, 6pm

Saturday, 14 April

  • Divine Liturgy of Holy Saturday, 9am
  • Rush, Paschal Matins, and Divine Liturgy, 10pm

Sunday, 15 April

  • Agape Vespers, 12pm

Following Agape Vespers, there will be a lamb roast (complete with a spit in the back yard) at my house. If you’re interested in coming to that, please e-mail me at rrbarret AT indiana.edu.

On Bright Friday: Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

This is the time of year, the last week before dead week, when I typically find myself scratching my head, thinking, “Where the heck did the school year go?”

Heck — where did April go?

Tomorrow will be the first Saturday here at home when I haven’t had to set an alarm since February. Note to self: next year, when you’re asked if you’re up to 8am Saturday Liturgies all throughout Great Lent, say “no”.

Anyway… getting home after the trip to Seattle, I was ragged to say the least, but I was nonetheless returned to your regularly-scheduled Byzantine Holy Week, already in progress. To say it was bizarre I’m not sure really covers it; being in the midst of a death in the family (and recovering from bronchitis before we left), and having missed, more or less, Palm Sunday, plus all of the Bridegroom Matins services, as well as having broken the fast while traveling, during Western Easter no less, to just drop in with Unction on Wednesday and return to fasting for all of five days just felt weird. Also, since my experience of Orthodox Christianity has been very much in the context of my marriage, having my wife gone made it even weirder. By the time people were yelling “CHRIST IS RISEN!” late Saturday night, I just had to admit — “Sorry, not feeling it this year.”

Which makes it a good thing that the Resurrection of Christ does not particularly depend on my feelings, I suppose.

Agape Vespers Sunday morning found me missing a perfect fifth at the top of my voice and in possession of an extra major third at the bottom. Such was the case for much of my choir. Folks, I will write a separate blog post about this later, but let me beseech, implore, plead with, beg you — for the health, sanity, and vocal longevity of your choir and cantors, when you decide upon a mission space or build a church, however temporary you plan for it to be, acoustics and an intentional, non-negotiable place for your choir and cantors are not a “nice to have”. They are a “need to have”. Low drop ceilings with acoustic tiles and carpets cannot be considered a reasonable option, because then your choir and cantors, who likely won’t be trained singers in the first place and who won’t have any way of adjusting for how an acoustically dead space messes with your hearing or your singing — to say nothing of your priest, particularly during Holy Week — will have really no option in the long haul but to yell through services against the room or just not be heard — and frankly, you probably won’t be heard terribly well anyway. As well, to haphazardly jam the choir into a corner they were never meant to occupy, where they are walled in by, well, a wall, the congregation, the solea, and the plane of a deacon’s door, particularly on Pascha when you’ve got extra choristers as well as people’s baskets encroaching on what is already too little space — well, it just doesn’t work very well, from any standpoint. Do not tell yourself, “Well, the space is temporary, so we’ll just make do while we have to,” either — temporary is a guest with a habit of staying late.

But I’ll come back to that another time.

After Agape Vespers, I was prepared to go home, make my Paschal nachos, bottle beer, catch up on some homework, and then go pick up my wife at the Indianapolis airport at 10:30pm.

Did you hear that? That was God elbowing me in the ribs, saying, “Gotcha good, didn’t I?”

At 3:30pm, I got a phone call from Megan at the Seattle airport. The short version is that, thanks to weather, the Chicago-to-Indy leg of her flight had been cancelled, and because it was a FAA-imposed delay which caused the cancellation, there really wasn’t much United Airlines was willing to do beyond to say, “Have a nice night at O’Hare and we’ll get you on standby the next day… at some point.”

“All you have is carry-on luggage, right?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“OK. I’ll see you in Chicago.”

I quickly called friends to let them know that nachos would have to wait, and I left at 4:30pm (EST) to try to intercept the 8pm (CST) flight.

Thanks to an eight-mile backup on northbound highway I-65 (the left lane was closed for construction, although no actual construction was occurring that I could see), I finally got there about 9:30pm (CST), or 10:30EST — the time I was supposed to pick her up in Indianapolis in the first place.

We got home around 3:30am (EST), making it an impromptu eleven hour round trip. Thankfully, Megan was up to driving most of the way home so I could sleep, since I had to go to work the next morning.

It was a great start to the week.

I am, however, finally caught up with all of the Greek homework that I missed while I was sick and subsequently out of town, as well as ready, more or less, for the conference paper-style presentation of my research project for the history seminar I’ve been in this semester. It will be a work in progress, and I’ve already said I’ll need an incomplete for the full paper given all the surrounding circumstances, but I at least have something to show people, and I think it’s reasonably interesting. I think. In short, it has to do with how Coptic and Byzantine liturgical texts show us how each Church builds its communal identity relating to, and institutional memory of, the Council of Chalcedon with the rhetoric employed in the relevant hymnody, synaxarion readings, and even in fixed portions of the Liturgy such as the Commemoration of the Saints in the Coptic rite, and so on.

We’ll see how it plays in Peoria. I don’t think I can assume any liturgical knowledge whatsoever, so a good chunk of my time is having to be taken explaining various segments of the different services. Hopefully eyes won’t glaze over too much.

So, besides not having gotten enough sleep in two months and coming up on the end of my part-time status as a student, I can say that I appear to have a chant teacher while I’m in Greece, I have my renewed passport, and we have Megan booked to come out to Greece for the last 9 days or so that I am there.

I had received some suggestions about chant teachers, but held off acting on any of them until a particular individual got back to me. This person finally did, saying, “Well, here’s how you get in touch with Lycourgos Angelopoulos as well as Ioannis Arvanitis.” The catch with Πρωτοψάλτης Λυκούργος, alas, is that he speaks Greek and is “able to communicate in French”; I’m not sure I want to depend on languages which are works in progress for this kind of instruction, so I sent an introductory e-mail to Arvanitis in Greek (proofread by my friend Anna Pougas, so that I wasn’t inadvertently telling him “έχω τρία αρχίδια” or anything like that) and in English. He wrote back in English, saying yes, I’ll be here, here’s my number, call me when you get to Athens. We’ll see what can actually be done in seven weeks, but I’m looking forward to actually getting to learn even the most basic of basics from somebody who actually knows what they’re talking about and who has had the real thing in his ear and his blood for his whole life.

Anyway — life is slowly returning to manageable levels. At least until it’s time to leave my job and go to Greece for the summer.

Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

“REAL GOD”?

I found this ad in a newspaper last week. It doesn’t matter which newspaper, and I’ve intentionally removed any marks from the ad that would identify the church who placed it, because I want to deal with the content, not the agent.

So, maybe it just demonstrates that I’m not the target audience, but I have to be honest: I don’t get it.

There are exactly two details here which tell you that this has anything to do with Christianity; the presence of the words “Easter” and “God”. The cityscape and overall generic postmodern presentation certainly don’t tell you that, and there is nothing else about the ad which says in any way, “This is the day on which we celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ after His Crucifixion and three days in the tomb, and we celebrate this because if Christ is not risen, our faith is in vain and we are the most pitiable of all men.” Instead, particularly with the attributes being pointed up of “AWESOME MUSIC” and “CASUAL STYLE”, this might as well be an ad for a nightclub. Okay, fine, the ad tells us that the teaching is “RELEVANT” (whatever that means — relevant to whom?), but does it tell us that the teaching is Christian? Are we supposed to be relevant and assume the whole Christianity part will take care of itself, or vice-versa?

“REAL GOD”? What does that even mean? As opposed to the “FAKE GOD” you’ll find anyplace else?

What, in fact, does this actually do to proclaim the Gospel which Easter recognizes, commemorates, and celebrates?

There is a joke where somebody has to explain to St. Peter what Easter is in order to get into heaven. The person has to think about it a bit, but finally says, “Well, let’s see — that’s where Jesus is in the tomb, right?”

“Yes.”

“And the stone rolls away…”

“So far so good.”

“…Jesus comes out…”

“Yep.”

“…and if he sees his shadow, there are six more weeks of winter.” Ba-dum-pum.

If we want that to remain a joke with a clever punchline rather than the reality, we have to do a lot better than this. I do not doubt the sincerity of the community who placed this ad, but we either know, and are proclaiming, what we’re celebrating — that is, the Risen Christ — or we aren’t. I’m sorry, but this just plain doesn’t cut it.

If the trouble is a category error on my part — as my godson Lucas likes to put it, if I’m trying to figure out what color Tuesday is — and/or at thirty-two I’m just too much of an old fuddy-duddy to get it, then please, enlighten me.

“His name was Spiro. My children got very close to this lamb.”

Oh. my. Lord.

(Hat tip to Fr. Joseph Huneycutt and thanks to Anna Pougas.)

“Perhaps it is tidier to deal in false dichotomies than to face the fullness of Christ”

On Good Friday as found on the Gregorian Calendar, I give you Teague McKamey (who is, in the interest of full disclosure, my brother-in-law):

Death and resurrection cannot be separated. This may appear so obvious that saying it seems like a platitude. But what I observe quite often, in the words of others and in my own thoughts, is a dividing of these into two separate categories. Now, it is often necessary and profitable to separate them for the purpose of teaching, to gain the clarity that only comes when a thing is considered in its own right. But it is disastrous to separate these two in actual belief and in the living walk of the believer. Perhaps we have grown too accustomed to thinking of death and resurrection as different subjects. Perhaps it is tidier to deal in false dichotomies than to face the fullness of Christ. We can say with certainty that there are theologies in the church that are based on neglecting or marginalizing either death or resurrection. Protestants avoid crucifixes. Prosperity teachers make great use of 3 John 2 but can’t preach on Philippians 4:12. Christian ascetics love to fast but don’t show up to the wedding feast. In the first few centuries, the church had to vigorously stave off attempts to deny Christ’s divinity or His humanity. I wonder: is diminishing the reality of Christ’s death or Christ’s resurrection any less serious?

I’ll let you read the rest.

In addition to Teague’s observations, one can also point out that Christ’s death was a function of His humanity; the resurrection, His divinity. There are still those today who try to deny (or downplay, at least) either the crucifixion or the resurrection, and intentional or not, a concurrent denial of His humanity or divinity is the inevitable result.

Also, consider the publishers of the First Look Sunday school curriculum, who are skipping the crucifixion altogether in their Holy Week materials, and as a result, can’t talk about the resurrection either.

We have made this choice because the crucifixion is simply too violent for preschoolers. And if we were to skip the crucifixion and go straight to the resurrection, then preschoolers would be confused. […] We’re using these formative preschool years to build a foundation for that eventual decision by focusing on God’s love and telling preschoolers that “Jesus wants to be my friend forever.”

Without the crucifixion, as this letter acknowledges, the resurrection winds up meaning nothing; without the resurrection, as these people have found to be inevitable, there’s nothing left to talk about but warm fuzzies. This is an extreme which, intentionally or no, winds up meeting the opposite extreme, denial of Christ’s existence entirely, at the other end.

One thing — clearly, the Christological controversies weren’t limited to the “first few centuries.” Those “tidy false dichotomies” are still with us today — Arianism still exists, in the form of certain sects who are more common than one might realize. (Do a Google search on the words “Arius was right” and you will discover that there are at least two well-known and established, if controversial, groups who claim the teachings of Arius as their spiritual patrimony.) Gnosticism and Nestorianism, I suspect, contain teachings which many modern Christians would encounter and say, “Well, that makes sense enough to me. What was the big deal?” Iconoclasm is proudly and openly claimed by some Christians.

Orthodox Christianity likes to say, “We’re both/and rather than either/or” — Christ was fully God and fully man, for example. Teague is absolutely right — this approach is non-negotiable when it comes to the crucifixion and resurrection as well. Otherwise — as one commenter to the Touchstone posting put it — the Gospel might as well simply be, “Adam and Eve lived in this really great garden that God made for them! Noah really loved animals (and rainbows)! Jesus loved giving children hugs! The end!”


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