Observing current coronavirus restrictions, some 30 people including master students from the Ecumenical Institute, faculty and family members living onsite, gathered in the medieval chapel in the late evening of 1 May for an Orthodox Easter midnight service.
For Rev. Fr Dr Lawrence Iwuamadi, dean of the Ecumenical Institute, seeing the small community gather in prayer at midnight was a memorable experience, not least in view of current circumstances.
“For us at the Ecumenical Institute, the chapel holds a very special place of course, as we have seen through the years many generations of students gather for prayer here, interact with and learn about each other’s traditions. This is a key element in the kind of ‘ecumenical sensitivity’ that we place so much at the centre of our teaching at Bossey,” Iwuamadi reflects.
“Particularly this year, it is heartwarming to see that the chapel can serve as a safe space for celebration, not least at such an important time as Easter,” Iwuamadi adds.
Faculty also joined in the service, which became an intergenerational gathering full of wonder and appreciation.
Rev. Dr. Kuzipa Nalwamba, professor of Ecumenical Social Ethics and WCC programme executive for Ecumenical Theological Education reflects: “It was good to join in the Orthodox Easter service at Bossey—a liturgical rendition of the story of the risen Christ told to an intergenerational gathering. It was linguistically accommodating and as beautiful as it was evocative.”
Anu Talvivaara, Academic affairs manager, says: “Easter without being able to participate in the midnight service does not do it for me, as these two elements are inseparable. Therefore, this midnight Easter service in Bossey was a wonderful surprise, as I already thought it would be a second consecutive year without ‘real’ Easter due to coronavirus restrictions.”
Students also expressed the sense of joy and hope that the Easter service brought them.
“Reflecting on the Orthodox Easter midnight service, the first word that comes to my mind is ‘ritualistic,' experiencing the tradition which we have been discussing with Orthodox colleagues during our ecumenical study,” says student Zhao Meiqing. “When our lives are disturbed in one way or another by the COVID-19 situation, the service, in a solemn way, ties us together to experience the joy and hope from above.”
Another student, Rev. Evans Nyamadzawo, adds: “The experience was so great and the fact that it was done at midnight with everyone holding a candle, made it so unique.”
Rev Han Sang Hoon, also a student, reflects: “I felt the solemnity and holiness through the liturgy of the worship in the Orthodox Easter midnight service at Bossey.”