Wednesday, March 21, 2018 Day 36 of Lent
Physically things are beginning to take a toll on me. I am tired more often. I have some hunger pangs now. My back is not doing well today, so I’m in pain with that. And I’m cold. My body temperature drops or something, so I have to dress warmer and use a space heater at times. But the end is in sight. This Sunday is Palm Sunday and then we are into Holy Week. We do quite a few worship services for Holy Week – Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so I’ll have a few messages to prepare and lots of logistics to figure out as well as a lot of volunteers to have in place. On top of that, I am beginning to feel a bit of pressure. Easter is my favorite day of the year and is such a joyous celebration that I want to properly convey that in my message on Easter morning so that anyone present, whether long time attender or visitor knows that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, trampling death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life and that it is a really big deal with life changing implications. One of the effects of this Lenten preparation I am finding, is it adds a very physical and visceral quality to the rejoicing on Easter morning. It’s more than just eating again, too. The ability to eat and feast is a manifestation of the reality that death’s power has been broken and in the Resurrected Christ we receive life. I feel excited and emotional even typing this stuff because it awakens in me such joy and hope that it really is hard to contain.
It’s early, but some words I have been reading today:
“Let none fear death, for the death of the Saviour has set us free.
Christ is risen and the demons have fallen.
Christ is risen and the angels rejoice.”
-St. John Chrysostom
“He whom none may touch is seized;
He who looses Adam from the curse is bound.
He who tries the hearts and inner thoughts of man is unjustly brought to trial;
He who closed the abyss is shut in prison.
He before whom the powers of heaven stand with trembling stands before Pilate;
The Creator is struck by the hand of his creature.
He who comes to judge the living and the dead is condemned to the Cross;
The Destroyer of hell is enclosed in a tomb.
O thou who dost endure all these things in thy tender love,
Who hast saved all men from the curse,
O longsuffering Lord, glory to thee.”
-Orthodox prayers on Vespers of Great Friday
“(Easter) is the explosion of cosmic joy at the triumph of life, after the overwhelming sorrow over death – death which even the Lord of life had to suffer when he became man.”
-Fr. Dumitru Staniloae
“All ye that seek the Lord who died, Your God for sinners crucified,
Prevent the earliest dawn and come, to worship at his sacred Tomb.
Bring the sweet spices of your sighs, your contrite hearts, and streaming eyes,
Your sad complaints, and humble fears; Come and embalm him with your tears.
While thus ye love your souls t’employ, Your sorrow shall be turned to joy
Now, now let all your grief be over! Believe and ye shall weep no more.
An earthquake hath the cavern shook, and burst the door and rent the rock,
The Lord hath sent his angel down, and he hath rolled away the stone.
As snow behold his garment white, his countenance as lightning bright;
He sits and waves a flaming sword, and waits upon the rising Lord.
The third auspicious morn is come and calls your Saviour from the tomb,
The bands of death are torn away, the yawning tomb gives back its prey.
Could neither seal nor stone secure, nor men, nor devils make it sure?
The seal is broke, the stone cast by, and all the powers of darkness fly
The body breathes and lifts his head, the keepers sink and fall as dead;
The dead restored to life appear, the living quake, and die for fear.
The Lord of life is risen indeed, to death delivered in your stead;
His rife proclaims your sins forgiven, and shews the living way to heaven.
God tell the followers of your Lord, their Jesus is to life restored;]
He lives that they his life may find; He lives, to quicken all mankind.