For many Orthodox Christians, on a slightly different calendar than mine, yesterday was Easter Sunday. Today continues “Bright Week” for them, a seven-day liturgy often referred to in its entirety as the Eighth Day, celebrating the end of fasting with a feast, and welcoming us into a space of fellowship and hope that anticipates the fulfillment of Easter’s promises.
To be more accurate, any liturgical calendar is different from the one I inherited, which was mostly none. My affinity for the Orthodox Church culminated when I saw a bumpersticker inviting me to “Return to the One True Church,” and discovered that it was not issued by my own heritage. As in the case of many clarifying moments for my understanding of Christian unity, I thought to myself, “Hey, that’s our line!”
There are more of us “restorationists” out there than I once thought, and many who share our urgency to preserve an AD 33 identity. As I pursue my own connection to the apostolic faith and continuity with the church of the New Testament, I find historical moments, figures and traditions in the Orthodox story to help me better understand my own, and deepen my sense of how God has been working in the world since the first Resurrection Sunday.
I found the idea of Bright Monday compelling. It’s also known as “Renewal Week;” a kind of New Year, in the wake of the Easter event we recall each Sunday, but sometimes forget to celebrate otherwise. For those who earn their Bright Week observance better than me, it is a unique time of the year that passes, but faithfully returns in the cycle of God’s life with the church. I am an amateur in terms of the themes and practices of this routine, but love the vision of the world gained by this cycle of faithful expectancy. In this case, it reminds me that I stand on the other side of Christ’s resurrection, even on the Monday morning following. While I may only taste resurrection in passing moments during this life, Bright Week returns again and again until I am fully stuck to it, and it carries me into the constant brightness of full, constant, conscious participation in God.
It helps me to be reminded every day that I am on such a journey, sometimes carried along while whatever else is at hand holds my attention. God’s work just keeps coming around. I pray you will be blessed by whatever this bright week brings, and given the strength to endure those days between brightness, which we know has – and will again – overcome the darkness.
He is risen – still!