When I was growing up, my father worked day and night. My mother didn't drive. So we didn't attend church very often -- not to mention there was no Greek school or other church-related activities for us.
We would go to church only when someone could drive us, or it was Pascha --- that we never missed. I remember as a child, the great anticipation I had for Anastasi. And not for the usual reasons. Christos Anesti was the only hymn I knew, and on that night, I could sing, I could participate. I felt like I was part of something bigger -- a community. My Godmother lived in Greece, but would always send a new dress and lambada, and I proudly wore them to church-- my link to her. I was fascinated by the lighting of all the candles by that one light. I would tell my friends about it.
My favorite night of the year is always spent at my home parish of The Greek Orthodox Church of St. Demetrios in Elmhurst, IL. I have attended Anastasi services there every year of my life. This grounds me, and keeps me close to my roots.
This feeling for Pascha has never left me, to this day. This experience, my yiayia's influence (that's a story for another day!), and my nouna's prayers, I believe is what brought me to the church as an adult, to fully experience all of its wonder. Faith -- and my church family -- are an integral part of my life. Also, I don't think it was a coincidence that my husband and I were married on Bright Saturday (that date wasn't our first choice), and our wedding ceremony began with the singing of the triumphant hymn, Christos Anesti.
Christ truly is the light of the world. I pray that you will take that light into your heart and your life, and experience all of His great blessings.
Χριστός ἀνέστη! - Christ is Risen!
Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη! - Truly He is Risen!
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