Easter in Dubai
Those who know me well know that, having not been raised in any faith, my decision to convert to Christianity (18 years ago) was something that I undertook with joy and exuberance.
As the Western Churches celebrate Easter this weekend, it is interesting to experience this “Feast of Feasts” here in Dubai.We celebrated Good Friday with my wife’s aunts and an uncle at St. Mary’s Catholic Church here in Dubai. My wife’s uncle told me that St. Mary’s is the largest Catholic parish in the world; and that may be true. They hold Masses in ten different languages. He reports that there are 8,000 people who attend the Catechism Class for Confirmation!
The first thing that strikes me is that it is not Spring here. Yes, we are above the equator, so technically it is Spring. But, the flowers and plants have been thriving all Winter (average Winter temps are in the 70s and 80s during the day). Only now, as the temperatures are reaching into the nineties, is the sparse, flowery plant life living its last days until the Fall.
Many an Easter sermon in the States is about Spring being a time for new life bursting forth and, of course, drawing the analogy to Christ rising from the dead. Here, the sermons would have to be about delicate, new life being scorched to death by blinding white heat. The analogy, I am afraid, would not be good.
Since, geographically and climatically speaking, I am much closer to Jerusalem than I was three weeks ago it’s making me think of a few things. The earliest Christians probably did not draw connections between Christ’s Resurrection and Spring (the Bible doesn’t, as far as I remember). The most apparent and obvious connection the first Christians would have made to the Resurrection, of course, is the Jewish holiday Passover. In fact, the Eastern Orthodox Churches still call Easter Pascha (PASS-kah: meaning Passover; using a different calendar, they celebrate Pascha next Sunday). Passover was God’s “rescue mission” of his people out of slavery. It makes me think of what things I am enslaved to in my life and heart (material things? attitudes?…)…and of course the joy of knowing I am rescued from such things…rescued from myself!
This morning we are going to the Anglican church, Holy Trinity, for Easter liturgy. I am thinking of all of you in the States (as you’re fast asleep now, probably). I pray and hope that whatever holy days we all celebrate, that today finds you with an extra unexplainable joy and love.