Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Romanian Easter #3 - Celebration

One of the things that we have done a lot of over the past few weeks that we have been in Romania is observation.  There are so many things that you don't realize that you do differently than others around you.  Being in Romania has been fascinating as we observe how the people here interact with one another, how they eat, how they shop, how they play, and even how they dress.  Along with observing all those things in the main culture here, we have also spent a lot of time observing the culture of the church and the spiritual culture of the people in and outside of the church.

Today I want to take a little time to share some observations....and they are just that observations.... these are things we watched and have asked questions about but things we don't fully understand but hope to understand more as we spend more time with the people and ask more questions.  The people here have been so gracious in answering our questions, and we are thankful for that because it is how we learn.

Our apartment or flat is located just down the street from a large Eastern Orthodox Church.  Before coming to Romania, I knew very little (okay let's be honest I had heard the name but knew nothing else!) about that church.  Here is Romania that is the most common church affiliation for most of the people.  Most of the time when we are talking and asking about church, people will say they go to the church on our street.  The very first observation is that their Easter is not the same time as Easter for us as Americans which seem to follow the Roman Catholic Church Easter schedule (not sure really how they figure it all out, but I do know that the Catholics here celebrate it the same time as the US so that is how I came to that conclusion).  One thing I did notice outside of each church is a place to light candles, it seemed similar to what I have observed in many Catholic churches.

Downtown Timisoara
The church close to our apartment

The church seems very least on the outside.... every Eastern Orthodox church that we have seen so far, is beautiful in architecture, large with a very formal appearance.  Here are a few churches that we have seen in Timisoara.

The church at night
The other things we have noticed are their traditions that specifically take place around Easter (though I think it would be neat to be here at Christmas time to observe their traditions then as well). The first thing we noticed the week before Easter was a beating sound.... not like drums but like a loud clicking noise... (not sure how to describe it).  For the first few days in the week before Easter... it seemed very random, but mostly in the evening.  From Thursday on in the week it was happening more and more.... Friday and Saturday is seemed almost constant throughout the day.   Joel asked a man at the park about it and he took him down to show him.  He tried to explain to Joel, however his English wasn't the best, so we are still a little unclear exactly what they are doing.  One of our friends here in the US said that it was a call to worship type thing and that it would stop once Easter had arrived.  Here is a video that Joel took when he went to watch with the man.

The other thing we were told that happens is on the evening before Easter at midnight when the pounding ends, the bells will begin to ring and people will come to Celebrate by lighting candles and marching down the street as they sing and the priest does a chant.  Joel was going to go down and watch but fell asleep, I didn't want to go by myself (though I think I would have been safe, I can't really walk that far without assistance) So I did what every nosey American would have done and I opened my window and leaned out and watched as over 1,000 people walked towards the church starting at 11pm.... grandparents, parents, children, all ages..... then at midnight the bells began to ring.... it was one of the most majestic things I have experienced!  They didn't just ring for a few minutes... they rang for 45 minutes straight (I feel bad for the bell ringer, I bet his arms were tired after that!)  I couldn't go to sleep I just stood in the window and watched (and tried to take some pictures, the pictures aren't great... but I wanted to at least try)  As the bells rang, many people took their candles and walked home, while many others stayed and sang and then marched down the street singing.  At the end the priest was speaking from the steps and by 1:30 am the service ended.  Below are the pictures and the video I took from our window.
In this picture is you look at the red spots below those are people standing with their candles

People walking home with their candles

They bells have been ringing more over the last few days but that seems common because they continue their Easter celebration into the following week.  Our friend Alexia has to visit an Orthodox church service while we are here, so I think we may try to go with her to help us better understand the culture of the church here.

Seeing them celebrate the Resurrection was so awesome, but more than that, it was a bit convicting... how much time do we celebrate that Jesus did something no one else can do or will ever do.... he conquered Death!  He rose from the dead, so that I can have life through a relationship with Him.... I need to celebrate more!  I need to make Easter linger longer.... daily in my life!  How about you? Is your celebration of Jesus continuing?  Have you taken time daily to thank Him for what He did for you?  Every time I hear those bells I am reminded of His Victory!

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