Sunday, April 15, 2012
Agape Vespers - Holy Pascha 2012
Two things stand out about this service. The first is the Gospel is read in different languages. In our parish, including English, 10 languages were read. The second, and most touching, is the procession. The entire parish processes out behind the Acolytes, around the parish grounds and into the cemetery, where we stop to continue singing "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!" This highlights a distinctive feature of Orthodox dogma -- the Church is one. Father Stephen Freeman has written about the notion of the Orthodox Church existing in a one-storey universe as opposed to the typical notion of a two-storey universe where we are "down here" and heaven is "up there." This is manifestly profound during the procession in the cemetery. We are reminded that the grave cannot hold our loved ones, and death cannot disunite us. The Church is one.