For some odd reason (and I’m still not sure why, but I trust my priest) my parish was not able to pull off a Bridegroom service last evening. So I traveled a bit north and worshiped with my old friends at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. I haven’t worshiped in Greek for awhile, so I wasn’t able to follow along as well as I used to, but regardless of the language, my soul knew what was going on.
For those not Orthodox, the Bridegroom services are the entrance to Holy Week, a series of services (meant for the morning but done in the evening the night before) that remind us of the need to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. For those of us who know we haven’t done all we could throughout Lent, it is both grievous and joyful.
We are reminded that our Lord loves us as the Bridegroom loves His bride. We know He will come for us, that He always comes for us, that He never leaves us in that place of “alone.” We know we are to ready ourselves for Him, but we know too that He loves us anyway and sacrifices it all for us, anyway.
The services also commemorate the last few days of the earthly life of Christ. We read about His confrontations with the Pharisees, the plot against His life is taking shape and we enter into it with Him. The question is, do we enter into it on His side, or on the side of the Pharisees on whom Christ casts the “woes”? Do we enter into it on the side of the Jews, who are disillusioned because they expected an earthly King, not a heavenly Kingdom? Are we Judas, who is willing to trade it all for a little bit of cash?
We have seen Him raise the dead. Just days before He called Lazarus out of the tomb, four-days dead and stinky. We saw His triumphal entry, but should have noted He wasn’t wearing fancy clothes and was riding on a donkey. We waived our palm branches (pussy willows in the Russian tradition) and cried out Hosanna.