Brothers and Sisters in Lord!
In the Matins of Pascha, we will hear these words, read resoundingly and with power: “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus…” In fact they are read at every Sunday matins. In the Slavic tradition, these words have been set to beautiful arrangements and sung with great emphasis. These magnificent words are one of our first responses to the news of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior. How else can we respond, except to bow down in worship of Almighty God? How else can we respond, except to proclaim that we know no other god. As we will proclaim in the Prokeimenon at the Agape service, “Who is so great a God as our God? For You are the God, Who alone works wonders?”
Our entire Paschal celebration is one of exuberant joy and praise. The reality of the resurrection is repeated, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” The triumph over the oppression of death is proclaimed, “You descended into Hades, and You shattered everlasting bars, which held fast those fettered….” These are not empty slogans or songs. Contained in the Holy Bible, the words of the apostles themselves, are their eyewitness accounts of the risen Lord. They went to the tomb; they found it empty. The risen Lord first appeared to the women disciples (John 20:11-18). Then He revealed himself in the Upper Room to the others, even proving that it was Him by showing them the wounds of crucifixion (John 20:20). In another account, the Lord broke bread and ate with his disciples (Luke 24:30 and 24:42-43).
Pascha is more than a celebration of an event from two millennia ago. Pascha – Resurrection – is our vision of life today. Today and all the days ahead are an opportunity to see life through the lens of resurrection, of life, light, and renewal. This vision empowers us to become messengers of the Good News not only in words, but in our actions, living our lives according to the precepts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The joy of Pascha should not allow us to think that the problems of the world have been solved. Death may have been trampled, yet people still die. Death though is not the final word. There is a new vision for life because the tyranny of death has been overcome. Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?’” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55).
In the icon of the Anastasis – the Resurrection, Christ raises Adam and Eve from their tombs in Hades, revealing a new possibility for humanity and offering hope for the cosmos. Through the resurrection, Christ has inaugurated His kingdom, and we His followers are challenged to live in the world according to this design. The resurrection has offered a new way of being in the world, a way of compassion, care, and forgiveness. This is the holy work we must accept. This work is “a struggle against everything distorted and malignant, both in ourselves and in the damaged structure and fabric of a suffering creation.” (“For the Life of the World,” §5). This work is ours to take up in our daily lives, in our homes, in our workplaces, in our parishes, in our communities. Equipped with the message of the resurrection, filled with the Holy Spirit, each of us may become an instrument of God’s love and care in the world.
A most important space for this work is in our homes, with our children. We must use every opportunity we can to share our love of God, to talk about our Orthodox Christian faith, and to put it into action that faith. As the Epistle of James says, “be doers of the word, not only hearers” (James 1:22). Our children learn from our words, but even more importantly they learn to imitate our actions. If you care about your Church and your Faith, they will grow up caring about them. When they see the excitement and the joy of Pascha in you, they will learn to experience it as well.
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, as you hear the Good News of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at the Anastasis and in every moment it is proclaimed, allow those words to fill your heart, your mind, your soul, and your strength. When you hear the words, “Having beheld the resurrection of Christ,” praise God fervently. Share the news with all you know but especially with your children, with our ancient greeting, “Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!”
God bless you!