Passover is a joyful celebration, from which we pass over from death to life, from sin to holiness, from Hades to Paradise. The glorious Church provides us with the same path from Good Friday to Easter through Apocalypse Saturday. This is also called “Bright Saturday” where the church is dressed in white, and filled with joyful hymns. We can hardly imagine what Eternity and the eternal life can be like. The answer is given to us this night when the Church takes us to heaven! Only those of us who have experienced this night in the church and attended the prayers can tell about their indescribable happy experience. This is the night of the passage from death to life. Joyful tunes replace the sad ones. Each tune starts sadly, then in the middle of it, becomes joyful, as we pass from death to life.

After crossing the sea, the Israelites began to sing the song of praise, victory, and salvation (Exodus 15). This is a wonderful example of how joyous life in Christ truly is. Though we face many problems and circumstances beyond our control, though there may be great tribulation, controversy or turmoil, we continue to shout to the Lord in thanksgiving and praise. This is the profession and vocation of a true Christian.

Thus far, the church has read through the entire book of Isaiah, the Psalms, and most of the other prophesies and gospels. During this festival of joy, the church continues in its prayerful meditations by reading the praises from the Old Testament—spanning the entire breadth of the Bible, from the Historical Books (Exodus), the Prophetic Books (Isaiah, Samuel, Daniel, Habakkuk, Baruch) the poetical books (Lamentations, Job) and the Deuterocanonical books.

  • The first praise is from the first part of Moses, the crossing of the Red Sea from death to life. (Exodus 15).

  • The prayer of Anna, mother of Samuel, is also read (I Sam. 2:1-11). “By God alone, one is made dead or alive…fallen in an abyss or lifted above.”

  • Habakkuk 3:2-19 expresses his exuberance in God his Savior, “He raises me up above… that my victory is in His praise.”

  • Jonah’s prayer, Jonah 2:2-10, is also read. “In my tribulations, I cried to the Lord my God. He heard my voice from the abyss of hell”(Jonah 2:2). Jonah came out alive from the whale.

  • We also read from Isaiah 28:10-20. Ezekiel, the Prophet and King of Judah, prayed to God and “God heard him and gave him fifteen years to live after the presumed date of his death.”

  • The three young men who were thrown in the fire crossed from death to life, because Christ was there with them.

  • Susanna, the chaste woman was condemned to death, but God saved her.

As we see, all the prayers and rites are praises for the passage from death to life. The Church introduces us to life in Heaven. A number of processions are alternated between the praises. The priests and the deacons turn around the altar, holding crosses and icons with lit candles. The atmosphere is one of joy and delight that can be experienced only by those who have attended the rites. The feeling is that of crossing from the world’s life of misery to the heavenly life.

The Church is leading us to the joy of the Resurrection and its aftermath. At dawn the readings are from the Book of Revelation. The priests, deacons and the community surround seven oil lamps, representing the seven spirits that are before the Throne (Rev. 1:4), the seven lit fires (Rev. 5:4) that are the seven Angels standing before God.

They are also the seven golden tribunes (Rev. 1:12) and the seven planets He holds in His hands (Rev. 1:16). The seven planets are the angels (bishops) of the seven churches and the planets. The seven tribunes are the seven churches (Rev. 1:20). We read the Book of Revelation, a book that unveils the secrets of the aftermath of the resurrection.

There is no end to what can be said about this night. It is indeed a personal experience that cannot be described. No one can express the meaning of this night unless he shares in the readings and praises. “To him that comes victorious, I’ll have him seated with Me on My throne as I have been victorious Myself and am seated with My Father on His throne. Let him who has ears listen to what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 3:21,22).