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Celebrating Easter with Eastern Orthodox Christians in the Middle East – Herland Report

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Easter is the most important celebration in the Eastern Orthodox Church, as Easter is honored by Christians from all over the Middle East, Russia, Ethiopia, Greece and other Eastern nations celebrate the physical and spiritual light that came from Jerusalem after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Although the dates may vary due to different calendars, Easter is the focal point for Christians all over the world.

We celebrate with our brothers and sisters in the Middle East and all over the world, where 2.3 billion Christians attempt to follow the example of Jesus with humility, justice, kindness, honesty, virtue and love and founding values. (Feature photo: Hanne Herland next to the Virgin Mary (Mother of God) icon, in the Ecumenical Patriarchy, Istanbul, Turkey.)

Icon of Mary and the child, dating back to the 11th Century, Ecumenical Patriarchy Eastern Orthodox Church, Istanbul.

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Salome, friend of Jesus is buried here, Ecumenical Patriarchate, Istanbul.

It is a night of deep spiritual and metaphysical importance to Middle Eastern Christians. As Huffington Post’ David Dunn commented: “Easter in the Orthodox Church is called Pascha, which is a nod to the Jewish Passover.

To be clear, when it comes to Orthodoxy and the church traditions that grew out of Rome, there is more that unites us than divides us, but what does make Orthodox Christianity different is most pronounced in the way we prepare for, and celebrate, the Resurrection.

Saint Sofia, a church from the 500’s ad, Istanbul, Turkey.

More significant is the way we enter Lent. There is no Ash Wednesday service in the Orthodox Church. We have Forgiveness Sunday. Our journey to the cross begins with a ritual in which every parishioner ends up having asked forgiveness from each other.

Ash Wednesday stresses our need to be reconciled to God. Forgiveness Sunday reminds us that we cannot be reconciled to God without also being reconciled to each other.

Our services during Lent are long and often, and finishes upon Easter Saturday night. This is especially true during Holy Week.

We alternate between standing, bowing, and full prostration. We recite the Psalter over the symbolic tomb of Christ in an all night vigil. We stand and listen to the Passion Gospels in a three-hour service (that ends with even more prostration).”

From the Ecumenical Patriarchy, Eastern Orthodox Church, Istanbul.

Take the time to watch Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” and rejoice at this message of peace and reconciliation as we live in an age of hatred, strife and religious persecution.


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