THOSE WHO “DISRUPT” CHURCH-SERVICES
I’m thinking this morning about those who “disrupt” the “proper” church-celebration of Pascha night, by showing up only for the midnight procession outside the church, and then leave with their Easter-baskets full of food (in the Slavic traditions), or talk loudly with one another and set off fireworks (in the Greek churches). Many of *us* who are the minority that stays for the full service grumble about these folks. I’m thinking, “What would Jesus do”? Would He do as He did in today’s Gospel reading, which is the part from John 2 where He goes to the Temple with His disciples on Passover, drives the money-changers out with “a whip of cords” and overturns their tables? I think not. Because the people who come *only* for a bit of the midnight service do not come to do business; they come to receive a blessing, and they are given a blessing. After all, “What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?” (Mt 7:9-10) I think our Lord would do as our churches do, year after year: Our priests accommodate all of us; they bless the Easter-baskets before the service begins, so that those who are leaving early can leave with a blessing, and they greet the whole crowd with the Paschal greeting, Christ is risen! And of course nobody is hindered from leaving the church early, whenever they want. Everyone is welcome, as we hear in the Paschal sermon of St. John Chrysostom, – those who fasted and those who did not; those who are going to all the church-services and those who are not.
*We* might think about doing better to catechize our people, to explain our beautiful Byzantine church-services and help the people participate in these services better, because so many do not understand what goes on in church, after they leave the Paschal midnight-procession. They *do* understand the parts in which they participate, with bringing the Easter baskets and lighting their candles and (in some traditions) setting off fireworks. But that is too involved an issue for this brief post. Christ is risen, everyone!