I thought I had seasons in the southern hemisphere down. I loved celebrating Christmas in the hot summer sun, loved that while attempting to bake Christmas cookies I was on the verge of heat stroke and my chocolate was just a pile of melted goodness. But now the days are getting shorter, I have overcome my fear of using a space-heater, and the winter clothes I packed but never thought I would use are becoming staples; winter is upon us in South Africa.
Celebrating Easter in the fall has made me re-examine what Easter means and how I celebrate. Much like Christmas I was amazed how much of the Northern Hemisphere traditions carry south, there were eggs, and bunnies, and other decorations I associate with spring decorating stores and on tv commercials. It felt as silly as seeing the fake snow while applying sunscreen in December. I am used to talking about Easter as the world around me is coming back to life from the long cold winter, now I am just going into winter. Instead of associating Easter with the resurrection we celebrate and the world resurrecting here I have to trust that as I see the leaves falling and the days getting shorter that there will again be resurrection.
Along with the seasons being different I was able to celebrate this time with my ELCSA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa) hosts. The Soweto circuit hosted it's second annual Easter Conference. All the perishes of the circuit came together to worship for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, and the Resurrection Service. The hall was full of nearly 2,000 people! It was an Easter to remember. Here are a few of the highlights!
Palm Sunday with palms cut from the tree outside the church then processing singing through the streets of Soweto
Learning that washing feet at Maundy Thursday involves bringing your own towel but learning this as my feet were in the water.
Stations of the cross devotions through the streets of Soweto Good Friday morning.
All day Good Friday service that included a brass band, singing, and dancing!
My host family sharing their traditional pickled fish for all the meals of the week. (I pictured the pickled herring my dad would eat that I can barely stomach but in reality this was more like a curry! Tons of spices and pepper with onions along with the fish it was so tasty!)
Easter vigil starting at 8 pm Saturday evening and going until 8 am Sunday morning. (I wish I could say I did the whole service but I did sneak a power nap from 3-4:30!)
A sunrise procession around Soweto with candles at 5 am singing and dancing.
The resurrection service ending the whole event.
It was an Easter to remember. One I will always cherish. I got home Sunday morning slept and then with my host family went to a gospel concert by, Joyous Celebration. Check them out!
Now I am enjoying a quiet week with public holidays Monday (Easter Monday) and Wednesday (Freedom Day the anniversary of the first democratic elections in 1994!)
Hope you all had a blessed Easter and for those in the Northern Hemisphere that you are enjoying spring!