Sunday, 19 April 2009

Easter Sunday in Russia

Last Sunday was Easter in the U.S.; but today is Easter in Russia, and it is their major religious celebration of the year.

On Easter, Orthodox Russians go to church and bring Easter bread and eggs to be blessed. Saturday night they enter a dark church that symbolizes the gloomy world without the light of faith, and the Mass goes until morning. There are no benches in Orthodox churches so they stand all this time. At midnight, church bells ring to announce the resurrection of Jesus. Priests come to the alter with a crucifix and candles, and everyone lights their candles and follows the priests in a procession with lighted candles and singing. Bells ring as the service ends early in the morning. People gladly hug and kiss one another and accept the priest's admonition to forgive everybody. The traditional Easter greeting is part of celebrating Easter: "Christ is risen," and the answer is given, "He is truly risen."

Except for the language being in Russian, our church service here in Moscow is similar to other Latter-day Saint church meetings throughout the world. We have the same manuals and hymnbooks, we hear similar inspirational talks, we partake of the sacrament, we study the scriptures, and our testimonies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are strengthened. Today, four young missionaries sang a special musical number with such nice harmony.

We will be in Moscow one more Sunday before going home, but today was the last Sunday for me to teach the Relief Society lesson. Although it has been somewhat of a challenge to teach Russian speakers via a translator, it has been rewarding. The sisters have been so kind and responsive. The questions I ask during the lesson always get good responses from these dedicated, faithful members. We love these Russian saints and will miss them.

This was the second Sunday meeting in the newly remodeled building at Universitet, as last weekend the Russian translation of General Conference was broadcast for the members here. There was a change in classroom assignments today, and Primary met in the upstairs room where Relief Society was held on our first Sunday in this building. The stairs going up to this classroom are better suited for children, as the steps are narrow and steep and make an abrupt turn going into the room. I was surprised when I first saw these stairs and thought they definitely are not handicap friendly.

Unusual stairs in the newly remodeled branch building.
A sharp turn leads to the classroom where
Relief Society met first, but now will be Primary.

Candy and chocolate eggs were passed out after
church on Easter Sunday
at our recently combined Universitet branch.

1 comment:

Старейшйнa и Сестра Шепард (Shepard) said...

That is a strange staircase. It looks as though it has no landing!! The first step after the turn looks a little strange too!!

Thanks for keeping us informed of your comings and goings. It is hard to believe that you only have one more Sunday!!!

When we first got to the U.S. Rapid City weather was the worst of all the weathers I have been tracking on my new iphone. But it has changed quite nicely, in your favor, mostly in the 70's this week.

We hope you have a safe journey home. We are headed to Alabama tomorrow to see Nick and Abby and their daughter Lore. The homecoming has been wonderful. I am sure yours will be the same. Salt Lake is also in the 70's, so maybe you will have good weather for your drive home!!