PODCAST: Orthodox Christians around the world celebrate Easter (ICH 04.26.22)

This is the International Christian Herald podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to the Daily Mail, Orthodox Christians around the globe celebrated Easter on Sunday, April 24, with thousands lighting candles at services in their community. In Istanbul, Turkey, people attended an Easter Resurrection Service at the Church of Fener Orthodox Patriarchate. The Patriarchate is the centre of Greek Orthodox Christianity, which has a religious population of around 260 million people worldwide. A service at the Patriarchal Church of St. George was conducted by Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, regarded as the spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Christians. With the Orthodox church split by the tensions between Russia and Ukraine, some worshippers hoped the holy day could inspire gestures of peace-making. ‘The church can help,’ said one man who gave only his first name, Serhii, as he came to a church in Kyiv under the Moscow Patriarchate. Residents of rural villages battered by the war approached the holiday with some defiance. ‘We’ll celebrate Easter no matter what, no matter much horror,’ said Kateryna Lazarenko, 68, in the northern village of Ivanivka outside Chernihiv, where ruined Russian tanks still littered the roads. ‘How do I feel? Very nervous, everyone is nervous,’ said another resident, Olena Koptyl, as she prepared her Easter bread. ‘The Easter holiday doesn’t bring any joy. I’m crying a lot. We cannot forget how we lived.’ She and 12 others spent a month sheltering from Russian soldiers in the basement of her home before the soldiers withdrew. Away from Kyiv, under the rain at a military position in the eastern town of Lyman, on the frontline, soldiers traded the usual patriotic salutation of ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ for the religious ‘Christ has risen!’ ‘Truly risen!’ came the reply.

According to the Daily Mail, Russia and Ukraine both marked Orthodox Easter on Sunday, with pictures showing Vladimir Putin in a Moscow church as his army’s missiles continued to rain down on Ukrainian civilians across the country. The Russian president attended the midnight mass at the capital’s vast Christ the Saviour Cathedral, which sits close to the Kremlin. But as his invasion – which was meant to result in a swift, decisive victory over Russia’s smaller neighbour – entered its third month, pictures showed Putin’s mind appeared to be elsewhere as he stood by the church’s altar during the ceremony, dwarfed by a large mural of the Virgin Mary resting Baby Jesus on her lap. He held a lit candle and when Patriarch Kirill – head of the Russian Orthodox Church – said ‘Christ has risen’, Putin joined other worshippers with the reply ‘Truly he is risen’. Across the border, just 280 miles from Moscow, the same words were spoken by people in Ukraine as the embattled nation also marked Orthodox Easter, in some cases in the ruins of churches destroyed by Russian shells. In the capital of Kyiv, prayers were held for those fighting on the front lines and others trapped beyond them in places like Mariupol. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed in an Easter message that no ‘wickedness’ will destroy the country and prayed that God returns happiness to children and brings solace to grieving mothers. Meanwhile, Pope Francis appealed again for a truce in war-torn Ukraine over the weekend, ‘to ease the suffering of exhausted people’.

According to the Mirror, A student has died during a re-enactment of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, which the audience reportedly thought was part of the performance. The unnamed undergraduate at Clariantian University of Nigeria in Nekede fell down during the Passion of the Christ performance, according to Nigerian newspaper Vanguard. The tragedy is said to have happened on Good Friday and people watching the play first thought it was a “joke” and part of the performance. But the student began bleeding after falling and people realised it was not a jest and he was taken to hospital. The Daily Star reports a source at the newspaper said: “At the time the incident occurred everybody came together and rushed the deceased to a school hospital and later, when the case became worse, he was taken to a nearly Federal Medical Center, FMC. “It was from there we heard he could not survive it. “Initially when it happened we thought it was a joke, and that it was part of the drama, it was when he could not get up that was when we knew it was a serious matter and he was rushed to hospital.” The university has yet to issue any more information about the tragedy.

In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!