Something I was thinking about today since it’s Good Friday for the other Christian communions, is how when I was a Protestant there wasn’t really anything special about this day, or Easter.
They were just normal days for the most part, the only difference being that you were supposed to think some about Christ’s death and resurrection. There wasn’t any real lead-up or preparation for it, and it all felt kind of arbitrary. At least Christmas has a whole season to get you in the mood. Sure there’sa lot of cynical commercialized nonsense, but there is some build up to it.
It’s funny, the pastors I had over the years would always try so hard to say something revelatory and profound that would change us on Easter. They tried their best but it always felt so abstract, just theoretical intellectual information. Yes, Jesus is risen and that’s great, but that’s true every day, right, so how is today really much different? Deep down, I thought stuff like this. In Orthodoxy it’s completely different because you feel it in your bones.
You actually live and experience the echoes of all these monumental events like Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday, the institution of the Eucharist, the Crucifixion and Resurrection: through Lent, through fasting, the services, an upended way of life from the normal way of doing things.
I’m not the world champion of fasting by any stretch but in the process I’ve left behind a lot of the things that make my life normal, listening to and playing music, video games, other recreational activities. Interestingly, the desire to even do any of that stuff has just left.
Anyway, when Pascha arrives you feel the gates of Hades blown to pieces, Christ emerging triumphant from the tomb, the dawn of a new creation. It’s all visceral and right in front of you, the power of it all magnified by what we gave up in the process: and thus, very little of it is based on the abstract activity of our rational faculties. It’s something that has to be lived, and experienced, to be brought to life.
Let us all through God’s mercies and Grace double down and fight hard for another week, the glorious Holy Week, as we see the finish line on the horizon, the celebration of the triumph of our Lord.