Christos Anesti, Alithos Anesti: Orthodox Easter at St. Luke’s

Story and photos by MARIAH HENRY
neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian.com

Kathrine Sarafinas and her little brother Theo divvy up their loot after taking part in the church's Easter Egg hunt.

Members of St. Luke’s Orthodox church on Audubon Drive marked Easter this year with the best kind of celebration: one with food, family and fun.

Seven days of services at St. Luke’s honoring Holy Week culminated in the hours-long Vigil of the Resurrection the night before Easter. The vigil started at 11:15 and carried on into the morning hours.

Church member Tracy Grant said that it’s always funny to see the kids in attendance drop off to sleep one by one during the service and that he has definitely seen some adult heads nodding as well.

Easter decorations and candles still burning after the Vespers of Love.

Easter itself is a much less trying affair at St. Luke’s. Members attended a service called the

Vespers of Love, a time for the story of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, lighting candles and prayer.

Afterward church members celebrated with a potluck. The weather was beautiful and so was the food, though it didn’t last long because it tasted even better than it looked.

Mia Grant, 4, eats a sweet dessert bread at the potluck.

The traditional red eggs of the Orthodox Easter. The egg is a symbol of rebirth or resurrection, and the red dye symbolizes the blood Christ shed on the cross.

If you feel like bringing a little bit of the Orthodox Easter home with you, I highly recommend you do so in the form of pascha bread. It is a sweet, hearty, cakelike bread that has been made in Eastern Europe for time out of mind, first as a celebration of the return of life in spring, and later as a Christian tradition.

This particular recipe is from Olga Mossine, who worships at St. Luke’s. Please don’t let the number of egg yolks it calls for turn you off; believe me, pascha’s worth it.

Olga Mossine’s Pascha Bread:

Pascha with sprinkles and Easter eggs. Photo by Nikolay Kovalchuk

1/4 cup milk
1-3/4 sticks unsalted butter
3 1/4 to 4 cups flour
1 egg
1 pack dry, active yeast
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, finely minced
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup milk

Icing:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 egg white
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Proof yeast. Heat milk and melt 2 tablespoons of butter in it.

Add 1/4 cup flour, stir in egg to make a soft sponge. Set aside to cool. After cooling,  add yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar; leave covered in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.

Cream remaining sugar and butter until fluffy. Add salt and yolks, beat well. Add vanilla and raisins.

Add “sponge” mixture and enough flour to make a smooth stretchable dough. Let rise three hours until it doubles in size. Divide and let rise again, about two hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two one-pound coffee tins with parchment paper. Bake the loaves for 45 to 60 minutes. Cool slightly then frost.

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