Friday, April 22, 2011

Holy Friday

I had written this out at some point during a previous Holy Week, but have no idea what year. Since I am within my 40 days, I thought I would share one of my first impressions of Holy Week as an Orthodox Christian.

This is the evening of Good Friday. We have been at church almost the entire day. After the morning service, we had a children's retreat while the older people decorated the kouvouklion with an overabundance of flowers: red roses, white carnations, sprays of baby's breath, and small purple flowers. It startded as a simple and beautiful carved wooden tomb, and literally blossomed over the day into a bower, calling to mind Christ the Bridegroom.

The first service (in the afternoon) after the kouvouklion was decorated ended with Father's invitation to worship at the soleas. The children crawled happily and humbly underneath to make the path of a cross. At tonight's service, people lit candles, light flooding into all the corners of the church from the altar trickling back to the nave in a slow joyous growing. The chanters sung the doxology, and then the entire congregation sang the song of the angels: "Holy, Holy, Holy!"

We slowly processed on the outside of the church: the cross, the altar boys, the tiny myrrh-bearers all dressed in white like the servant girls carrying the lamps and awaiting the Bridegroom, the kouvouklion, the priest, the chanters, the choir, and the entire congregation. We carried candles, weighed down with overwhelming joy and humility of knowing that we cannot move ourselves to God, so he came to fetch us to Him. The myrrh-bearers scattered rose petals which seemed to have been blood spilling from the tomb and transformed into joyous, velvet, sweet-smelling reminders of God's Love.



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