Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Dina suggested me to go out today morning to see how Americans celebrate Easter. I took her suggestion. I haven't ever been to a church in action. I mean I visited some churches in Iran, Cyprus and in the U.S. but nobody were there at that time and It was quiet and empty. But today it was crowded. However it was a small church I think.

The most interesting thing that I found was the 'Egg Hunting' tradition. Similar to what we prepare for our new year day in Iran, the colorful eggs (you might see some of them in Sara's blog, Mashhad (IRAN) Daily Photos), they painted some eggs for children. They have absolutely similar symbol: symbol of the rebirth!

The ancient Persians painted eggs for the new near celebration (Nowrouz), which falls on the Spring equinox. This tradition has existed for at least 2,500 years. The sculptures on the walls of Persepolis show people carrying eggs for Nowrouz to the king.

Let me tell you a little bit about my observation:

It was 10:30. I entered a random church in downtown. It was 'St. James Lutheran Church'. Similar to a mosque people sat in rows. There was a leader (pastor?) in the front row, right below the cross, who was saying something (the prayings) and sometimes people repeated after her and sometimes just said Amen. Similarly in a mosque, there is a leader (called Emam in Farsi or Imam in Arabic) who stands in the first row and leads the crowd to say the prayings all together.

After the main prayings, the leader started talking about some parts of the story of the easter day. Exactly the same in a mosque, after the prayings, the Emam starts to tell a story about something in the past related to the prophet or his followers. It is so funny that it seems all the leader, no matter in a church or a mosque, love to speak alot. They are talkative!

After saying someother prayings, people started shaking hand with each other. Wow! I can't believe. This happens in a mosque exactly in the same way. At the end of the prayings in a mosque, Muslims shake hand with each other.

Hmmm what else? ... oh when they said Amen altogether, it reminded me Mecca and Medina. I visited Mecca and Medina in summer 2007. The mosque was full of people, thousands of people were ready to pray altogether. The leader started the prayings. Suddenly everything got silent. If you close your eyes, you never guess if you are among such a huge crowd. You hear the sound of people's breath, song of birds and everything that you could never hear just a minute ago. After a few minutes of silence and just listening to the leader saying the prayers in Arabic, you hear a soft and loud voice of people saying 'Aaaaamen'. I recommend you to watch the first two minutes of this video in YouTube. Anyway, it was so interesting to see all these similarities! I love the word 'Amen'. It is a magic word that is interestingly used all around the world.

Islam holds Jesus to be a prophet, or messenger of God, along with Muhammad, Moses, Abraham, Noah, and others. In particular, Jesus is described as the Messiah, sent to guide the Children of Israel with a new scripture, the gospel. According to the Qur'an, believed by Muslims to be God's final revelation, Jesus was born to Mary as the result of virginal conception, a miraculous event which occurred by the decree of God. To aid him in his quest, Jesus was given the ability to perform miracles. These included speaking from the cradle, curing the blind and the lepers, as well as raising the dead; all by the permission of God. Furthermore, Jesus was helped by a band of disciples. Islam rejects historians assertions that Jesus was crucified by the Romans, instead claiming that he had been raised alive up to heaven. Islamic traditions narrate that he will return to earth near the day of judgement to restore justice and defeat "the false messiah". Maybe this is a little different from what Christians believe, yet similar. No matter whether Jesus was finally crucified or not. We all knew he suffered alot and we all knew he was risen and he will be back! Amen. Is Amen the last word in the bible?

Happy Easter!


Virginia said...

How amazing that you took the time to visit another religion. I so appreciate your text today. THis is indeed a Holy Day for Christians and I thank you for sharing that . Meead you are a fine example of how we can all learn from each other and appreciate and respect our religions. Peace will follow.

Dina said...

Meead, good for you! You went in!
And you turned what you observed into a delightful teaching post.
SO interesting to see church through your eyes. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

You got me curious about the last word of the Bible. In the Hebrew scriptures it is "vaya'al," meaning "Let him go up." But Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, indeed ends in Amen.

Miny said...

Hey..the you tube link is very good...i like this holy feels like taking the voice through eyes...and gulp it...very soothing..

USelaine said...

I'm glad you got to experience this, and look for the things that connect us together.