April 30, 2005 in City

Orthodox prepare for Easter

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Christopher Anderson/ photo

The Rev. Stephen Supica, of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Spokane, wraps the symbolic body of Christ in a shroud after taking it off the cross in the background on Holy Friday.
(Full-size photo)

Late tonight, worshippers of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church will celebrate the holiest moment in Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus.

“The faith is not just a religion. It’s a reflection of what God is, and what God is, is love,” said lifelong Holy Trinity member Nick Damascus. “God didn’t send his own son to be butchered. He was offering the gift of salvation.”

The church has been celebrating Orthodox Holy Week with several services.

Other Christian churches celebrated the resurrection of Christ on March 27, based on the Gregorian calendar. Easter usually falls on a different date for Orthodox churches, in part because they use the older Julian calendar to determine the holiday.

In an hour-long Good Friday ceremony, called the Vespers of the Unnailing, the church reenacted the removal of Jesus from the cross and his placement in a tomb.

A wooden depiction of Christ was taken from a cross and laid and wrapped in white linen and placed on the altar.

Later in the service, the Rev. Stephen Supica walked around the congregation holding over his head an epitaphios, a cloth with an image of Christ lying in his tomb. He placed it in the church’s kouvouklion, a wooden enclosure covered with flowers that represents Christ’s tomb.

At the end of the service, congregants lined up and, one by one, kissed the epitaphios. Some also kneeled, placed their heads on the floor and crawled under the kouvouklion – a tradition from parts of Greece and other countries, Supica said.

Supica said he could best sum up the meaning of the holiday by quoting an Orthodox hymn: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs, bestowing life.”


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