Levon Kardashian reflects on Easter in his home country of Lebanon and adapting to a different experience in Australia.
In our Church which has symbols for everything and everything symbolises something, this Easter I was looking for the symbols my home church has to mark Christ’s death and resurrection, but I could not find them.
In my home church in Lebanon we have the Good Friday service at 3pm, which is the time recorded in the Gospels as the time of the crucifixion.
The only church I could find in my area that had the service at 3pm was a Catholic church.
This was also very different from my experience of the Catholic church in Lebanon. At this Good Friday service in Lebanon, the Catholic Church brings the statue of Jesus down from the cross and starts a procession on the streets.
The cross leads the procession followed by the body of Jesus lying on a plank. People of all denominations would join the procession, including the Armenian Evangelical and Armenian Orthodox Churches.
As we walk, people join the procession and it gets bigger and bigger.
Jesus would remain off the cross until Easter Monday (the only 3 days that the cross in the Catholic Church does not have Jesus on it).
None of that happened in this church where symbolism is also important. Jesus was still on the cross when people left the church.
After the service I went to the shopping centre and bought some food for my late lunch and I remembered that in Lebanon I would not be able to do that.
The Casino in Lebanon operates 364 days a year. The only day it closes is Good Friday.
Not only Christian but also Muslim shops in an all Muslim area are closed on Good Friday.
Only Hospitals will be open. There is a roster for Pharmacies that open but they close between 3pm and 6pm.
During Holy Week in Lebanon, cars and trucks drive the streets with huge speakers playing Easter hymns and music.
There is no Easter Bunny in Lebanon – but we do have eggs. There is a strict fast during Lent of no meat, eggs or dairy.
I have been living in Australia for quite some time and I still struggle around Easter time because what is happening around me is not enough to get me to the place where I encounter Christ on the Cross or Christ in the Tomb or even the Risen Christ.
I wonder how the refugees who have arrived from the Middle East with similar experiences like mine feel.
Levon is a Panel Member and Multicultural Project Officer for the South Moreton Presbytery in QLD.