When our family was living in the USSR in 1991, on Easter weekend, everyone greeted us with the phrase, “Christ is risen,” and we were supposed to answer, “He is risen indeed.” Everyone chanted it in a near-sing-song tone. It was a real encouragement. But little did I know that nearly quarter of a century later, they’d still be chanting it.
You see, today I received what had to have been my 22nd annual “Christ is Risen,” greeting from the diesel mechanic who became the pastor of the megachurch that God raised up right before our very eyes. So faithful, so determined, Zhenya continues to preach, teach, and inspire people yet today. In spite of Russian soldiers poised on the border of his very land, Zhenya is still worried about greeting me with that traditional Russian sing-song greeting. Christ is risen: He is risen indeed.
I bet you and your family have Easter traditions as well. Pictures on the front porch? Pointing out the Easter lilies, blooming along the road or in the yard of that old house down the street. An Easter basket with plastic grass? A chocolate bunny? Whatever your tradition might be, we invite you to accept Zhenya’s enduring Ukrainian tradition as your very own: Try teaching this simple “Paschal Greeting,” to others in you church, home group, or family. Then explain that these words remind you of growth among new churches and members in Ukraine. In fact, please make it a part of your prayer today, on Easter, to thank God for the fact that Christ is risen — he is risen indeed.
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