Easter Day yesterday, and many ways to celebrate it. A Roman Catholic friend of mine has the custom of going someplace different every Easter, church-wise. He invited me to go with him to the East Van sunrise (read: rain-rise) service at Trout Lake Park, and I accepted. There were about 100 people there at 7:30 am, from various churches. The service was led by a youngish pastor name of Julia, from First Vancouver Christian Reformed Church. That’s a conservative denomination of originally Dutch ethnicity.
In her “reflection” (note: not her sermon), she told us how the Immigrant Services Society was building a large welcome centre for refugees on the lot next door to her church. This made her congregation realize that they had to become better informed about Islam, and they were working on it. The church has also hired a new staff person to be chaplain to refugees, and work with those who will soon be their next-door neighbours. She also commented on the similarities and difference of belief between Islam and Christianity. (She didn’t say this, but it occurred to me that simply as believers in God, Muslims and Christians share a worldview which is less and less common here in beautiful British Columbia.) I found it inspiring to hear so inclusive a message from a representative of a conservative denomination.
At one point we were divided into small groups in order to offer prayer in a more intimate way than in the larger group. In our little group there was a Greek Orthodox woman, whom I was able to greet with the traditional Greek Easter greeting, “Christos anesté!”–Christ is risen. But I didn’t know the response, which she then taught me: “Alethos anesté!”–he is risen indeed! So my Greek expanded exponentially!
I also learned a new liturgical custom. After she made a particularly strong statement, she would say, “Amen?” in a questioning tone; to which of course everyone immediately responded “Amen!” I’m looking forward to having an occasion to practise this new learning.
Thanks again to my friend John for taking this initiative, and to his wife Miriam for the delicious breakast we shared afterwards.