I joined in about 2 weeks late, but I fasted for Lent, giving up dairy and meats. It was not easy. My body reacted by making me ravenously hungry. And I can’t say I read every label and completely followed every element, but I did pretty good. I went into it not knowing really what was the purpose of Lent. I knew part of it is to identify with Christ in His sufferings. I am still not clear about all of it, but the self-discipline of it, the denial of self, the focusing of our energies of Christ, makes us better followers of God . I felt that. I am eager to do it again next year.
Not just the fasting, but also the services. I attended all I could. It is amazing how the worship services are so saturated in scriptures. Two of the services were approximately 2 and half hours in length. We read all of Psalm 119 in one service and several long passages in the gospels in another. I managed to attend the Monday night Matins of the Bridegroom about the 10 virgins, the Friday night service about Lazarus, the Holy Saturday Matins, and the 11:30 pm service that lasted til 3:30 am. We went back then for the 1:30 Sunday service. Quite an exhausting experience, but spiritually refreshing as well.
Father Timothy had walked me through it during my session with him, so I knew some of what to expect. There were beautiful aspects of it. I was very moved with the icon of Christ being taken down from the Cross. We marched around the church like a funeral procession led by the icon of Christ being borne above the heads of 4 men. They stood in the doorway of the church still holding it high while we passed under the body of Christ and kissed the Word of God as we entered.
Time stood still as we commemorated the death and resurrection of Christ. We stood with Mary and John there in Jerusalem at His Cross. We went with Joseph as he brought the body of our Lord to the tomb. We watched the stone being rolled into place and the guards set.
The lights came on, the priests wore white, the people rejoiced as they sang “Christ has risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and to those in the tombs bestowing life!” over and over. Jerusalem shone and Mary was radiant. We felt all that as that sacred moment in time stood still.
We rejoiced further to realize once again that as Christ called Lazarus’s name and he came forth alive from being in the grave 4 days, so He will call His own by name some day and we will also come forth to live with Him forever.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
The most important event ever to take place was celebrated.
I felt so much closer to the people after that. I want to be closer still.
There is the matter of confession.
to be continued…