Upper Darby & Philadelphia, PA – The sounds of clanging pots and pans highlighted church services for the Greek Orthodox faithful today. Across the Delaware Valley, 1st resurrection services were performed. At St. Demetrios, Fr. Georgios Kouzelis conducted his first Easter services, while at Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church, his Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, led the congregation.
On Saturday a Vesperal Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great, is celebrated, called the First Resurrection service (Greek: Ἡ Πρώτη Ἀνάστασις), named because it is earlier chronologically than the following service drawn up by St John Damascene, rather than because it occurs earlier liturgically.
In the Greek Orthodox tradition, the clergy strews laurel leaves and flower petals all over the church to symbolize the shattered gates and broken chains of hell and Jesus’ victory over death. St. Luke parishioners expressed this moment by banging pots and spoons, as Metropolitan Evangelos marched through the church tossing flower petals into the air.
While the liturgical atmosphere changed from sorrow to joy at this service, the Paschal greeting, “Christ is risen!” is not exchanged until after the Paschal Vigil Later that night, and the faithful continue to fast. The reason for this is that the Divine Liturgy on Holy and Great Saturday represents the proclamation of Jesus’ victory over death to those in Hades, but the Resurrection has not yet been announced to those on earth (this will take place during the Paschal Vigil).