Easter is a whole season. I think we forget that sometimes. We celebrate and sing and shout our alleluias on Easter Sunday, with the smells of Easter lilies filling the sanctuary. And then we go back to the grind of daily life and, sometimes, we forget that Easter is not just one Sunday, but a whole season. Fifty days when the resurrection promise is set boldly before us. Because Christ lives, we live.
It’s hard to believe that the Easter season is almost over. We’ve been planning the Pentecost service at St. Andrew’s and I’ve seen lots of Facebook posts about brothers and sisters planning theirs in congregations near and far. But we’re still in the Easter season, which is good, since I have yet to write about the Easter Sunday festivities at St. Andrew’s.
The day started with a lovely English service. We sang all the Easter favorites, accompanied by organ and surrounded by gorgeous arrangements of white gladiolas, daisies, and Easter lilies. After the service, we feasted with an potluck that reflected our international community. Indonesian noodles, pancit, sushi, Egyptian sweets, potato salad, and corn casserole, just to name a few. It was fun to see what people brought and, of course, even more fun to try dishes from around the world! I loved the way our international community was reflected on the banquet table. It was a delicious and delightful celebration of Christ’s resurrection!
The Nuer congregation’s tradition is to baptize on Christmas and Easter. They had invited me to be a part of the Easter Sunday baptisms so after I had eaten and visited, I headed back into the sanctuary for the second service of the day. When I arrived, they were calling the names of those who would be baptized and they gathered around the font, some holding hands of parents, others held in their arms, still others playing or standing obediently next to their moms. With eighteen children and a mom to baptize, it was quite a crowd. Once everyone had assembled, they were asked questions and the congregation recited the Apostle’s Creed in Nuer. Pastor John baptized about half of the children and I baptized the other half. In English and Nuer, we said the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” with water dripping down foreheads and bright eyes looking up at us. It was an honor to be a part of the service and to be present to welcome nineteen new brothers and sisters in Christ. I love the way cultural and language barriers are broken down and with simple words and water, we are united as brothers and sisters in Christ, made one by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Later that afternoon, I participated in service #3 of the day with the Dinka congregation. At the beginning of the service, they sang “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” in Dinka. It was so neat to hear the familiar melody and have a sense of what was being sung, even though the only word I understood was alleluia! They sang and sang and sang, celebrating the resurrection promise in Dinka, Arabic, and English. After the service, Pastor Ayad invited me to join them for dinner. By that point, I HAD to get home and get my feet up, but he insisted I at least come at “eat with my eyes.” The Guild Hall tables were set with take out containers and the banquet table was covered with huge pots that held several different types of meat. They sent a box home with me and Justin was delighted to find that there was even a tripe dish!
I love that it is my job to join in worship with brothers and sisters in Christ. This was an Easter to remember, filled with hope and promise. It was clear throughout the day that, even though we so often feel that we are walking in darkness, our faith and hope are in Christ, and in Christ there is light and life. We cling to the resurrection promise, no matter where we come from. Because Christ lives, we live, and we are united in that promise, here in Cairo and throughout the world.