Monday, April 21, 2014

Communal Easter

Christ is Risen!

Our church did something different this year and joined with another church to celebrate the Resurrection. I thought it was a strange idea at first. I'm still not really sure why it was decided to do things this way; I guess an attempt to unite in friendship and love for a special holiday.

Our two congregations are VERY similar. Almost like twins. The only difference is that they got first dibs on the bigger auditorium. Heh. Heh. So it was nice to be in a real auditorium this once instead of a teeny classroom. The funny thing is that they meet one hour before us on Sundays (and leave while we're still in session), so we don't tend to bump into each other even though our rented meeting rooms are in the same compound.

(Photo credit: Daniel Chersunov) I bet you can't find me! It's only a partial view...try looking for Andrei first. ;)

It's nice that our churches are similar because I didn't really feel like everything was shockingly different. A few of our members helped with worship and our pastor gave a mini-sermon and our Sunday school teachers taught all the kids together. The other worship and leading and preaching were done by our hosts. Oh, and I almost forgot the performance that their kids put on: Resurrection verse recitations. So ridiculously adorable.

Even though I like to observe meaningful holidays with people I'm close to, it's also nice to be in a big, excited group to celebrate something joyful. The more people that I meet who share my sentiments on such a day, the more it lifts my spirits.

(intermission here; big Easter lunch/dinner with Nina and Vladimir)

ALL the animals must EAT! 

Evening thoughts after celebrating the Resurrection

It always kind of confuses me when I see people going about their regular life on Easter Sunday. Not that I expect everyone to celebrate Easter, but in the culture I grew up in it was a family day even for non-religious people. Most people I knew at least did the whole Easter basket thing, church or not. In Russian Orthodox Christianity though there is a night vigil and then early morning service, so maybe that is the culmination and people go home and wind down after that.

I saw a lot of people going grocery shopping and walking their dogs and whatnot. And I wanted to ask them if they knew what day it was!

Then again, it's almost midnight and I'm catching up on dishes and laundry myself. (how dare you change out of your Easter outfit already, Elizabeth!) Life must go on, and our faith is merely the driving force, not an event that happens periodically. Still, I'm glad we have holidays that make us stop and contemplate.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Having People Over

Here is a little bit about a gathering that we had-wow, a week ago already.

Andrei and I had some of his "former students" (from the SPB Christian University) over for dinner and fellowship. I always find it funny when he calls them that because most of them attend our church and are friends of ours. Many of them were even in our small group at one point; not so much anymore.

Andrei gets the discussion going

Admittedly they're not really plain old "friends" though either, because they have that comradery of a group who has been through stuff together; shared classes and dorm chats and life-changing decisions. It's fun to see that kind of closeness.

Talking and toys
After eating, we migrated to the living room where the discussions could continue while the two toddlers played. You might still call some of those present young adults, but I felt a difference even from just a few years ago.

There was kind of a heaviness-not in a depressed way, just demonstrating new levels of challenge and burden. Marriage for some; work, missionary work, teaching, a baby, housing conflicts.We talked about questions that relate more to being leaders in the church, not just members. How do you prepare a Sunday school lessons for the kids who've heard it all? How do you prepare a sermon for ADULTS who've heard it all?

It would be fun to form another small group and meet regularly! As it was though two people were skipping worship rehearsal to be there...oops! ;) And another two people needed to be put to bed pronto.

Bonus photo with my little munchkin....(who is very good at "sharing" toys, by the way...although I think he is just too young to really understand what's going on)

"'s a toy cabinet that hasn't been emptied out yet..."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

She's a little older...

Walked into the living room while friends were visiting to find this cute scene!

This week

Sort of in survival mode here. I caught a cold over the weekend as we were heading into Andrei's most intense 2 weeks of the semester. Oops! We need to keep HIM healthy, too! I think I would rather be sick than have David and/or Andrei be sick.

So I've been laying low, but I guess if I feel like blogging I must be on the rebound.

Last week we had a stream of guests every other day, and today we would have too if I hadn't cancelled. But what seemed like a recipe for a nervous breakdown (in terms of lots of entertaining) didn't turn out too badly. Apparently keeping one's home clean is EASIER when you have more guests. I wonder why that is? More discipline? Less time to mess it up? Kind of reminds me of Fly Lady and working towards always being ready for company. Lately (when the sniffles don't get me down) I have been operating on the principle of "DO IT NOW." In general I do triage with housework and that means that a lot of seemingly insignificant tasks pile up because I don't see them as being worth my time. I'm still bad about the dishes, but returning things to their places or putting things in the trash right away does reduce the work later on.

I also feel calmer when other people do the cooking, or at least contribute. I'd love to be able to do it all myself, but then I turn into a monster. On one of the occasions I opted to make a salad and have storebought dessert. My tastebuds may have missed out, but the stress of trying to pull a dessert together in addition to everything else would have had consequences, not to mention I would have neglected David.

Meanwhile, it's Lent...but we're not fasting. Andrei and I "joked" (though not to make light of the Resurrection) that fasting would actually be pretty practical during Holy Week due to the vigor of the scheduling. He doesn't have time to eat breakfast before work, and by the time he's home from church in the evening we don't get to eat dinner until around 11pm. And then it's time to prepare for the next day's lectures/sermons/etc. And of course I think of the Passover too and the unleavened bread and the traveling clothes...readiness.