Great Lent begins for Orthodox Christians on Forgiveness Sunday. This year the start of the Great Fast was February 26, and it was a day full of celebration and fellowship. Many wonderful photos follow! Here is a brief summary.
In the week before, our Church School children made candles! They recycled unused beeswax and made beautiful new votives for use at church and home during Lent. Also, our sewing group — St Tabitha’s Guild — made new ribbons in a variety of liturgical colors for our Gospel and Epistle books. At the end of Liturgy on Forgiveness Sunday, we blessed the new candles and ribbons.
During coffee hour after Liturgy, we had our maslenitsa. Orthodox Christians gave up meat for Lent on the previous Sunday, and the maslenitsa is the final meal for eating eggs and dairy before Pascha (Easter). John Klibansky organized another wonderful “farewell to dairy” brunch, complete with blinis and potato pancakes. I guess we have “Fat Sunday” rather than a “Fat Tuesday” in the Orthodox Church.
After the maslenitsa, we returned to church for Forgiveness Vespers. At this service, we change our colors from gold to purple, and our prayers mark the start of Great Lent — the Holy Forty Days before Holy Week and Pascha. We concluded Vespers with our service of mutual forgiveness, where the members of St Nicholas exchange both forgiveness and the kiss of peace. This reminds us that Lent is a journey we take together!
Our thanks to Richard Johnson for his wonderful photography.