Christ has risen! Indeed he has!
We walked about three blocks to a small Orthodox Church nearby in the neighborhood. Probably 100 individuals came out for the midnight service at this church as many others went to their churches all over Romania this Sunday midnight. It was cool and cloudy but a nice evening to be out walking. We walked with neighbors and friends from around the neighborhood. Low, quiet conversation was happy and congenial. We each carried with us unlit candles down the fairly dark streets.
Upon arrival at the small church (this is a new church – it’s been in the neighborhood less than a year so this was it’s first Easter service), people were gathering in front of the building. At midnight, two priests came out front on a porch and began to sing, chant, pray, and walk among the people with incense. Everyone said the Lord’s Prayer together. After a few minutes, the priests began lighting the candles of those in front who in turn lighted the candles of those behind them. This continued until the otherwise dark crowd was now lit with new candlelight of the paschal day that began at midnight.
More songs and blessings and, after perhaps twenty minutes, the service was over. Some went inside to partake of the paschal bread. Others spoke to each other outside until family and friends left for their homes. Returning home, however, was different. Each had a glowing candle to take with them. Whereas we walked to church in the dark, we returned home each with lit candles.
Such a nice and meaningful experience.