Bright and Joyful Services at New Church for Pascha (Easter), 2011
Christ is Risen!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I could not be happier to announce that our new church had a First Pascha (Easter) service which was profoundly joyful and beautiful. We had about 75 persons present (two head counts differed slightly, so I average them to 75), which is more than last year, but what made me, as priest, so glad was how people stayed through to the very end. People were caught up in the joyfulness and prayerfulness of this mystical celebration of Christ's genuine resurrection from the dead.
A photojournal is at http://tinyurl.com/42pspz4, but it can't adequately capture the sea of joyful faces which greeted me every time I turned to shout, "Christ is risen!" again and again. I have received various emails from those who were present, grateful emails from those who experienced this invisible joy, a grace which came down from God, the grace of the actual resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and God. Truly the church became Jerusalem, the Tomb was found empty, angels worshipped at our side, and we partook in Holy Communion of the Risen Christ Himself, personally present with us. This is an astonishing mercy of God and a great thing!
We had a joyful trapeza, too, with traditional baskets, plenty of kulich and paskha, and just the best food. The Sunday afternoon Agape Vespers (paschal vespers) was fairly well attended, and more baskets were blessed then too. We had a small Easter egg hunt (not with real, blessed Easter eggs, of course, but non-edible egg shapes for the fun of it). Many thanks to the Sisterhood of the Myrrh-Bearing Women, who made all of this celebration as rich and pleasant as it was and was there for the kids.
I was pleased to see that we had no traffic congestion or parking problems. There was more than enough room for all the cars, especially thanks to the kindness of our supportive neighbors who offered driveways and parking areas for our use.
There was Liturgy on the Monday after Pascha, and some folks came and again there was a (belated) blessing of baskets.
There is a major change to our service schedule: Vigils will no longer be held on Saturdays. This is due to Fr. Aidan's difficult work schedule and will be ongoing for the foreseeable future. We hope to restore Saturday services when it becomes possible again.
Andrew's whole family is moving to the area and we are so glad to welcome them into our community. It has also been good to see Reader Andrew, who trained our altar servers, did a very large portion of the work on the new church, and is an elected Auditor for our parish accounts. Again, it was a delight to see our dear brother Dmitri Mercier, who has done so much invaluable work in the establishing of the Austin parish.
Dear friends, in the church and not, Orthodox and not, from whatever walk of life and faith, Christ is risen!
Rev. Fr. Aidan (Keller), priest
Holy Protection Russian Orthodox Church
personal email: firstname.lastname@example.org