If you’ve not watched this fascinating animated retelling of John Bunyan’s classic tale, here is an awesome opportunity to watch it for free. Just click HERE to enter your contact information to receive a free viewing. I hear that over 1/2 million people watched this for free Easter weekend!
Initially, I watched for free and ended up purchasing a set of two DVD’s in support of their work. One has already been given away and the other is ready for a receptive pair of eyes.
Revelation Media is producing some very well done series outside of Pilgrim’s Progress. Their Torchlighter project presents annimated stories of heroes of the faith, accompanied with activity pages for children. A preview of this series can be viewed HERE. The heroes covered include:
Torchlighter Episodes feature the following heroes:
Corrie ten Boom
Robert Jermain Thomas
Adoniram & Ann Judson
They are also working on an iBible which tells the stories of key biblical figures. A preview of this fascinating series can be viewed HERE.
I’m truly excited when these state-of-the-art tools are created to help Christians and others explore the fascinating story we hold so dear.
We’ve just celebrated the Western tradition Easter but the Eastern Orthodox tradition is in the middle of their Holy Week. For most Eastern Orthodox, Easter, or more properly Pascha, is their most important focus of the year.
“The English word “Easter” is not a biblical word. It is thought to be a translation of the name of the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess, “Eostre”. In any case, it is an English word which is used today to translate the Greek term ‘Pascha‘, which translates the Hebrew term for ‘Passover‘. The Christian Church transformed the Jewish Passover, which commemorated the freeing of the Hebrew people from Egyptian bondage into a feast which commemorated the death and resurrection of Christ which freed humanity from the bondage of death, sin and evil.
For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival …” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
“Thus the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection became the first Christian Feast – the Christian Pascha.”
Sheltering-in-place is proving to be a challenge for some Alaska Orthodox churches. Orthodox services are very dependent on a sung, chanted, and spoken liturgy. It’s difficult for many of these churches to provide remote viewing and the expected liturgy due to their extreme rural locations or their lack of technology.
In the Anchorage area, several Orthodox churches are proactively meeting their parishioners needs by a combination of strategies.
Holy Week Services Bridegroom Matins Monday, Wednesday & Thursday nights at 6:00 pm. Thursday 9:00 am Liturgy Friday 2:00 pm Lamentations Vespers Saturday 9:00 am Vesperal Divine Liturgy
All services will be aired on Vimeo and Facebook, if possible.
Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church has services on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions and difficulties getting high-speed telecom service as their site is quite a distance from the road on O’Malley. Fr Vasili Hillhouse is working with his Bishop to gain approval for remote services. I’ll update when I have confirmation of this.
UPDATE – 5:00 p.m. Friday: Fr Vasili Hillhouse has advised me that their services will now be available on:
I appreciate the hard efforts our Orthodox community is putting forth to connect with their parisioners and provide the liturgy which is lifegiving for so many. I’m sorry I was unable to mention every local Orthodox church but these are a good cross-sample. I suggest searching for the website of any other Orthodox church you would like to explore during Holy Week.
Easter time is a joyous time of year for most Christians. During this time, we take special attempts to meaningfully relate to Christ’s last week, and His death, burial, and resurrection. Many Christians attempt to establish a better understanding of the Christian life, and practice meaningful acts to bolster their faith as Easter approaches through Lent. Lent starts this holy season which culminates with Holy Week, Good Friday, Vigil, and Easter. Conversely, many faiths are proud of pointing out that they do not recognize Easter for various reasons. However, I discovered a special affinity for Easter; it has positively influenced my spiritual walk.
I’m overjoyed that so many local pastors and church communities have worked overtime to accomodate their parishioners by having online meetings, or even meetings in cars. Those churches who do so, in many cases, are reaching larger audiences than they did with their normal congregation. Easter will be an especially difficult time for so many people normally accustomed to flocking to churches to hear the Good News of a risen Savior. There is something so attractive about the resurrection story that draws people to those who proclaim the Good News of salvation! Conversely, I’m saddened by hearing of churches who insist on having services that ignore the public lockdown advice of the health authorities. Maybe this will be the new battle front in the church/state battle.
However, I’m positive much good will come out of churches adjusting to safe and sane ways of reaching their parishioners: it’s a teachable moment. We should be careful to continue to support our churches by giving, as their expenses do not cease due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many have converted to online giving portals which make giving so easy.I wish each of you a Happy Easter and a wonderful Easter Week.
At Easter time, I love to perennially share the beautiful N.T. Wright quote from his book “Surprised by Hope” for it inspires a true re-examination of the way we celebrate Easter.
“Easter week itself ought not to be the time when all the clergy sigh with relief and go on holiday,” Wright says, “It ought to be an eight-day festival, with champagne served after morning prayer or even before, with lots of alleluias and extra hymns and spectacular anthems. Is it any wonder people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don’t throw our hats in the air? Is it any wonder we find it hard to live the resurrection if we don’t do it exuberantly in our liturgies? Is it any wonder the world doesn’t take much notice if Easter is celebrated as simply the one-day happy ending tacked on to forty days of fasting and gloom?”
Finally, I choose to close my Easter posts with a poem by theologian Walter Brueggemann. This is taken from his Abingdon Press book of poetry, “Prayers for a Privileged People”. It is especially fitting as it brings to mind the life and death horrors of our pandemic.
Easter in the Very Belly of Nothingness‘
Death will be all right for when it comes. But dying is another matter– so slow, so painful, so humiliating.
Death will be a quick turn, the winking of an eye but dying turns and twists and waits and teases.
We have not died, but we know about dying: We watch the inching pain of cancer, the oozing ache of alienation, the tears of stored-up hurt.
We can smell the dying of bombs and shells of direct hit and collateral damage of napalm spread thin and even of cities turned craters of Agent Orange that waits years to show, and lives turned to empty stare.
We watch close or distant; we brace and stiffen and grow cynical or uncaring.
And death wins– we, robbed of vitality, brought low by failed hope, lost innocence, emptied childhood, and stillness.
We keep going, but barely; we gather at the grave, watching the sting and the victory of dread.
But you stir late Saturday; we gather early Sunday with balm and embalming, close to the body, waiting for the smell but not; dreading the withered site…but not; cringing before love lost…but not here.
Not here…but risen, gone, awakened, alive!
The new creation stirs beyone the weeping women; O death…no sting! O grave…no victory! O silence…new song! O dread…new dance! O tribulation…now overcome!
O Friday God—Easter the failed city, Sunday the killing fields. And we, we shall dance and sing, thank and praise, into the night that holds no more darkness.
It’s been sometime since I last posted, but I’m going to be posting articles regularly now. The last month has been a blur. Trip to England and Africa was cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic. Clearly Holy Week is going to be radically different this year.
With “hunker-down” and “social distancing” in place, most Christians will have a radically different experience with Easter this year. Please feel free to share your experience in your comments to this post.
I’ve been experiencing a house church for some time. It is one of several affiliated with Great Land Christian Church. Their model is to worship in house churches every Sunday except one. The exception is when the entire church meets as a congregation at the Boys & Girls Club facility. The congregate meetings, of course, have been discontinued during the pandemic. However, I’ve attended congregate GLCC meetings and find them to be a joy. My longtime friend Pastor Ray Nadon has filled me in on why they switched to this model. I’ll be doing an indepth post on them shortly. I’ve enjoyed worshipping with the Paredes house church for a number of Sundays. They are now meeting via Zoom. The majority of their time is spent discussing the assigned scripture readings. After my return from Africa, they focused on Matthew 23-24, and the following week Matthew 25-26. It is a very personable way to study, pray, and assemble as Christians together. If you would like to join their Easter service, click on this link to obtain a Zoom meeting invitation. (https://www.glccalaska.org/)
Many churches have transitioned to having their services via some type of social media or internet meeting sites such as Zoom or Skype. I’ve talked with several local pastors this week and they shared the following information about their services this weekend. This list is not exhaustive but representative. I suggest looking at church websites for specifics for onlne worship.
All Saints Episcopal CHurch – Rev. David Terwilliger (allsaintsalaska.org) Rev David shares, “As far as our Holy Week/Easter schedule, we have reduced many of our usual worship activities but certainly not all. As things stand, I have been posting videos of our services on our church website – linked from a church YouTube account. (http://allsaintsalaska.org/youtube-services)
“Fortunately, I have my household to assist me with the services – usually my wife as Lector and my daughters will Acolyte for us Easter morning. It certainly seems strange to us to conduct a service to be viewed by our church family online – many I know are able to watch and listen. Sadly, some, I am sure, cannot. Nevertheless, I have had folks tell me that they find great comfort in knowing that the Eucharist is still being celebrated within our church sanctuary even if they cannot be here physically to participate. We are relying on a teaching of the church that “spiritual communion” is available to those whose desired intention is to participate in the Eucharist but for reasons – not their fault – cannot be physically present. In this, the sacramental benefits of Christ’s sacrifice are apprehended by faith. This teaching has been around for a long time and is even provided for in the 1662 BCP rubrics as well. So we are relying of Christ’s presence and our Church’s tradition to guide us during these days. Additionally, the old Armed Forces Prayer Book offers guidance for Spiritual Communion and a wonderful prayer found here: http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1928/AFPB_Spir_Communion.htm
St Mary’s Episcopal Church – Rev. Michael Burke (http://godsview.org) Rev. Michael says they will be using Zoom for the Easter service at 10:00 a.m. with Twitch and Facebook mirroring the service. The Zoom link is (https://zoom.us/j/362945215) or go to the church webpage noted above for a link. The bulletin is also availabe there. Pastor Michael also shares, “People are joining us online from around the world and throughout the lower 48.Much joy despite the crushing busyness.”
St. Patrick’s Parish – Fr. Leo Walsh (https://www.facebook.com/stpatsak/) “We are pretty much shut down” say St. Patricks Pastor Fr. Leo Walsh.”I have been live streaming mass is at noon daily, and on the weekends on our Facebook page. Due to the governors mandate, it is impossible to celebrate the Triduum liturgies if there is only one person who lives in the household, such as myself. The Triduum liturgies for the Archdiocese will be celebrated and streamed from Holy Family Cathedral (English) and Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral (bi-lingual in English and Spanish).Mass of the Lord’s Supper, 7 PM on Holy Thursday; Good Friday Liturgy at 7 PM, Easter Vigil on Saturday at 8 PM. Details are on the archdiocesan website.” (https://www.archdioceseofanchorage.org/) Fr Leo says he “will be streaming Easter Sunday Mass from Saint Patrick’s at 10 AM Easter Sunday morning.” See Facebook link above.