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 Orthodox Christian website defines Pascha as,
“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.”http://www.orthodoxchristian.info/pages/Pascha_word.html
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.
St. John Orthodox Cathedral’s leader, Fr. Marc Dunaway shares that they are using these key strategies to adapt.
- Live Streaming from the Cathedral
Most major services will be livestreamed from the cathedral with a small group of clergy and chanters. (click here for schedule)
- “Home Church”
There are some services that do not need to be led by the clergy or served in the Cathedral. They are reader services that can be done in homes. (click here for resources for doing so)
- Individual Readings
Each person, as he/she is able, can read other Scriptures and spiritual reflections for each day of Holy Week. (Some suggestions are in the attached “Special Holy Week Schedule 2020.”)
Pascha blessings to the St. John Community for making the best of an unusual situation. I appreciate your courage and friendship.
St. Tikhon Orthodox Church has a variety of information posted on their informative Facebook pages to guide parishioners and potential visitors. (see attached Facebook link) This beautiful church appears to not be offering online services at this time.
St. Innocent Cathedral is providing live video of their services starting today via their Facebook pages. (click for Facebook link) Their website lists the following schedule.
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:
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAofSG7tbSXc2_xb46-RN0Q/
Service times are listed on both of these sites.
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.
Blessed Pascha to my many Orthodox friends!