Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “Holy Week”

Flowers in church

One of the problems of Western Easter and Orthodox Pascha coinciding, as they do this year and next year (it’s quite rare for them to coincide two years running) is that flowers are virtually unobtainable.

It’s also interesting how Western customs differ from Orthodox ones. Western Christians give up flowers for Lent, and go mad with them for Easter, as Cherie shows on her blog Cherie’s Place: The Easter Cross:

As part of the Easter celebrations the local parish church always erects a wooden cross and adorns it with flowers. This is done by the congregation just before the Easter morning service. I think it is a lovely idea and the little children get involved with it too.

The Human Flower Project notes, however, that:

In contrast with Roman Catholic and most Protestant churches, the Eastern Orthodox sects do not shun flowers on Good Friday: lemon flowers in Crete, floral biers in New Jersey, daffodils in Bulgaria, and more.

And they even nicked a picture from my other blog, Khanya, showing the Epitaphios decorated with flowers.

The Epitaphios is the burial shroud of Christ, which is placed on a table in the middle of the church, decorated with flowers. St Nicholas parish in Johannesburg is perhaps somewhat unusual, in that we combine both Greek and Russian customs, so that there is more action in the services. On Holy Thursday morning the Last Supper is commemorated, and after the service members of the congregation decorate the Epitaphios table with flowers. Usually we use chrysanthemums, white and purple, which are cheap and plentiful, but this year, because of Western Easter, there were none to be had.

At the Thursday service there is Matins of Good Friday, sung the evening before by anticipation, interspersed with 12 gospel readings of the Passion. It is the longest of the Holy Week services, lasting nearly 4 hours. After the fifth gospel reading the cross is brought out from the altar. Then on Good Friday morning, we have Vespers, which is the taking down from the cross. The body is taken off the cross, and the Epitaphios is brought out and placed on the table. And at the evening service it is carried in procession around the church, and young girls act the part of the myrrh-bearing women and scatter flowers petals on it.

So for the Orthodox Good Friday is the most flowery day of the year.

Good Friday 2009

We worship Thy passion O Christ
Show us also Thy glorious resurrection.

Yesterday (Holy Thursday) we set off for the Vesperal Divine Liturgy at St Nicholas Church in Brixton, which began at 9:00 am, but the N1 freeway was clogged solid. We trying to take an alternative route to by-pass the obstruction, but traffic on other routes was just as bad, and eventually we gave up and came home.

We tried again for the evening service, Matins of Holy Friday sung by anticipation, and made it that time. We had three deacons to share the reading of the 12 Gospel accounts of the passion.

During the singing of the following hymn a cross is brought out by the priest and placed in the centre of the church.

Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon the tree
The King of Angels is decked with a crown of thorns
He who wraps the heavens in clouds is wrapped with the purple of mockery
He who freed Adam in the Jordan is slapped on the face
The Bridegroom of the Church is affixed to the cross with nails
The son of the virgin is pierced by a spear
We worship Thy passion O Christ
Show us also Thy glorious resurrection.

The members of the congregation come forward and prostrate themselves before it three times, and kiss the feet of the crucified king.

We worship Thy passion O Christ
Show us also Thy glorious resurrection.

Too exhausted to blog

I have an hour or two before leaving for church at 6:45 am. In the second half of Holy Week there is little chance to read my friends blogs on my blogroll, much less write anything. At most there’s a time for a quick glance at visitors on MyBlogLog.

From Thursday we have two services a day, lasting 3-4 hours each, and about 6-8 hours travelling time each day, which doesn’t leave much for anything else except a few hours’ sleep. I fetch 3-4 people in Mamelodi, and take them to St Nicholas Orthodox Church in Brixton, Johannesburg (the only English-speaking Orthodox parish in Gauteng) a 200 km round trip. What with the speed humps in Tsamaya Avenue, and the traffic jams in Buccleuch, it’s an exhausting journey, and takes a minimum of 3 hours for the round trip. The 70c a litre petrol price increase doesn’t help either.

This year our Holy Week coincides with the Western one, in which Good Friday is a public holiday; in the years when they don’t coincide there is more traffic on the roads, so the travelling time goes up to about 8-10 hours a day.

To my Christian blogging friends: Kali Anastasi (Good Resurrection).

Orthodox Holy Week

The following Orthodox blog has some very useful material for Holy Week.

I printed it out for our mission congregations and others may find it useful too: Orthodox Holy Week

Here are some pictures of how we began Holy Week in Johannesburg last night.

To all my Orthodox friends: kali anastasi (good resurrection!)

Orthodox Holy Week

The following Orthodox blog has some very useful material for Holy Week.

I printed it out for our mission congregations and others may find it useful too: Orthodox Holy Week

Here are some pictures of how we began Holy Week in Johannesburg last night.

To all my Orthodox friends: kali anastasi (good resurrection!)

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