i love it when God rocks our worlds in the moments where we think that we are being most pious.
because my journey of faith has been a meandering one- one that i believe even started when i got dunked in the orthodox church as an infant- i carry along with me a rich tradition of faith from a variety of denominational perspectives. in addition to my orthodox roots, my other grandmother took me to lutheran vacation bible school, i had a crazy faithful baptist aunt, evangelical christian friends in college- i’ve been a part of vineayard, baptist, pentacostal, jesus freak punk churches across the u.s. and germany…
around easter time however, i really like to relish in the orthodox traditions. they have some of the most powerful imagery of the passion and resurrection. they uphold Christ’s ultimate power and glory in a way that few other traditions have been able to capture in the history of the church. so on ‘holy saturday’- i always attend the anastasi service around midnight, followed by the full divine liturgy of st. john chrysostom. it has been a most meaningful night for me for as many years as i can remember.
so this year, i got to experience it in berlin. it was a bit sad riding the subway alone to a church that i had never been to (wasn’t even sure if it still existed based on the random internet listing where i found it) but nonetheless, i went, and it was good. however, on the ride there, my mind began to wander a bit. there i was, all dressed up, heading to church at 11:30 pm on holy saturday, my thoughts directed toward the final moments of Jesus, dead in a tomb, reflective… and wouldn’t you know- at that hour on a saturday, in berlin, i was not the only person using public transportation.
my 23 minute ride on the u and s-bahn was shared with a group of all kinds of different people. mostly they were young- on their way to party, or already engaged in it. and for a moment, i found myself thinking- ‘what irreverance…’ on such an evening- i even thought, about how i too enjoy the berlin nightlife, but not on this night…
and then- i caught myself. almost instantly. i was crushed with something like the weight of a ton of pharisaical bricks- really!? how are these people supposed to hold something reverant that they have no category for? and isn’t presenting them hope and grace and mercy, what the resurrection was all about? and it was that good kind of conviction. not that my reflective mood, thinking about participating in a symbolic service representing the epic rise of Christ from the grave, was bad- but just that it is not more important than real life and real lives. those kids on the train are more important than my participation in a contemplative church service. how did that even for a moment, slip my mind? i repented.
and that is the tricky part of devotion. that is the thing that we as the church have to be most mindful of and most careful. let us relish in our traditions and symbols. let us celebrate our most sacred days of rememberance. but in that, let us go beyond all the symbolism and make sure our hearts are really in tune with the mission we are surrounded by all day every day. let us live the sacred message we hold so dear. singing and praying and celebrating Christ’s victory on the cross and through the resurrection only have power, if that miracle of God and the power of the that victory and resurrection are alive and at work in our souls- bringing the light of Christ to the world around us.
so if on your to or from celebrating on this easter day- you seem an irreverent child- do not be dismayed- nor should you scoff. instead, think about how you might be able to share the light and the hope of the risen Christ with them- so that that child- a child of God, might be reconciled back to their Creator and Father.