Friday, April 14, 2006

Spring Fever

Well, this looks like a monthly at best for now. I think I'll increase volume in the summer, but have been busy with work and personal stuff.

Spring is here at last!!!
Central Russia had a relatively severe and long winter this time around, with temps plummeting to minus 30 F (-35 C) in January. Winter held its grip right up to April, with temps in the teens and twenties (F). But the melting began just under 2 weeks ago, and today is the first day that the playground in front of our building is snow-free! One more week and the snow should be completely gone and the ground, hopefully, dry.
This weekend, Easter in the West, is not yet Easter in the East. Eastern Easter, known as Pascha (Pahss-kah) to Orthodox Christians is on Apr. 23rd this year.
Question of the month (and maybe year): WHY is the Resurrection NOT the most important holiday on the Western Christian calendar???
This is not a trivial question. It is a symptom of what I believe is wrong with Christianity in the West in general.
We all know Christmas holds the #1 spot, Thanksgiving 2nd, and Easter a more distant 3rd (to most Christians, and further to non-Christians).
Christmas looks back to the past and celebrates God coming down to man, the bringing of God into this world. Easter looks forward to the future and celebrates Christ's defeat of Death and His (and our) subsequent rising to God.
And yet, we prepare for Christmas for anywhere from a week to a month before the event, and have a two-week holiday/vacation following it, while Easter hardly gets a day off, except maybe for Catholics on Good Friday.
In Orthodoxy, Lent precedes Easter by a good seven weeks!! 6 weeks of lent, followed by Holy Week (commemorating Christ's last week before the Crucifixion, the Crucixion itself up to the Resurrection). During all this time, Christians who are not in name only, but serious about trying to become like Christ, are called upon to fast (meaning here "abstain") from certain foods (in general, all meat and dairy products - barring medical conditions, pregnancy, etc - and from activities that distract them from God (maybe TV, computer, tech stuff, hours-long conversations on the phone with friends, or whatever has you too busy to pray and read the Bible or other Christian literature). For almost 2 MONTHS! It's amazing how your mind clears as the beer, heavy foods, and some of the hectic pace back off.
Point is, Orthodoxy takes Pascha SERIOUSLY.


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