On Saturday night at 11:30, one of the other missionaries and I went to part of an Orthodox service. The interior of the church was beautiful – no wonder Volodomyr was convinced to convert to Orthodoxy in 988! The walls were covered with paintings of Biblical scenes and saints. The iconostasis had icons of saints in ornate golden frames.
[More information about the cathedral/monastery I visited can be found here.]
I saw people proceeding through a line to view a glass coffin that held some part of a saint, after which they knelt and crossed themselves. (Did you know the Orthodox cross themselves the opposite way that the Catholics do?) Some time later, the liturgical part of the service began. The priest recited/read something that repeated “Lord, have mercy” and everyone would cross themselves and bow. (The liturgy was in Russian and it was even harder to understand than at my church.) Later there was some kind of responsive reading/recitation, where the priest read and the women’s choir sang. We left after this part.
|My contraband photo I took inside the women's monastery church.|
|Lady with her Easter basket|
|Nazarene sunrise service|
As I looked around at the people gathered inside, I thought of them as the people who ride the bus with me, who I pass on the streets. I wondered what impact Christ’s resurrection had on their lives, if they connected Christ’s victory over death to possible victory in their own lives (especially for the drunk people I saw later).
The ritual in the Orthodox church reminded that there are millions around the world celebrating with me, and millions (billions?) more that have celebrated in the past in similar or very different ways. What connects us all is the fact that we are rejoicing over Christ’s incarnation, sacrifice, and resurrection. The beauty of the church reminded me that God is a God of beauty – God makes “beautiful things out of us” (“Beautiful Things”, Gungor song).