An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
I realize that we remain in the Paschal season, but I am sure we all are experiencing to differing degrees a sort of post-paschal-back-to-normalcy blues, no? And so the question arose in my mind: Now what?
"Oh, well," we might answer, "we finish out the Paschal season and prepare for Pentecost and then...etc etc."
Yes, yes...but what do we do with that Paschal joy that so enlivens us? That great news! The glories of this Sacred Pascha, which "has been revealed to us?" The Feast of Feast by which we have asked to be "illumined!" In the Paschal Canon we are exhorted: "Let us embrace each other. Let us call 'brothers' even those who hate us, And forgive all by the Resurrection..." and surely this is NOT just for the Paschal season! It's for the Paschal ERA.
We may perhaps pause and consider the first Passover, the precursor of our Great Passover. The Israelites might have stayed in their state of slavery, had they so chosen, but Pharaoh himself gave the advice that I'd like to consider now for myself today in this, the 2nd and less Bright Week: "Go, serve the LORD as you have said!"
After Passover, they got up off their butts and LEFT Egypt. For us, it's not too much of a theological stretch to imagine that it is the grave itself we must opt to leave after our Passover. But too often, I think we (meaning I) prefer to rot in our (my) box rather than really do anything that requires effort for the sake of the joy we (I) now claim as our (my) own. Heck, I act like the Israelites who'd later lament and complain when they see Pharaoh's chariots approaching, except I'm not even sure I would have got up and gone with them to begin with!
Get up and GO! That's what we do post-Pascha. Passover is the BEGINNING, not the end of Christian Life. The wilderness still awaits us, with all of it's trials and sufferings and temptations. And, when we come to the water barrier in front of us while a "pursuing tyrant" is hot on our tail, we must have Paschal courage: "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today!"
This LIFE...this JOY...this FEAST of FEASTS, should motivate me to MOVE! To share it! There are a billion different ways to do so.
Hmmm... Pascha as something to be lived every day? Pascha as a beginning, and not the end?
The parallel of the first (OT/"Mosaic") Pascha and the Pascha of our Lord Jesus Christ is an apt comparison. I'm not sure that the call to us, who live in the Paschal "era" (again, a great insight), is to leave the grave, necessarily -- although if we shift our gaze from the everyday meaning of that word to a less obvious one, the connection again is a good one. This would hearken back to the teachings of the fathers with regard to the question, "Why do we sin?" The answer, strangely enough (at least, in today's culture) is that we sin because we fear death. When we grasp that death itself has been destroyed, we also grasp that the way to overcome sin has been given to us. So, we could say that, on the one hand, we can define "Egypt" as the world we are called to leave behind as we journey to the Promised Land, the Kingdom of Heaven; while the other hand is that we are set free from the grave, and so should not remain there, but instead grasp the life-without-end we have been given, and set forth in that life to show Christ to the world in what we say, and what we do -- in who we are!
Thank you, James! I think you've just written this Sunday's sermon for me! ;-)
You have exactly captured my thinking...the grave as the sin we hide ourselves in...the selfishness....the comfort...avoidance...or whatever holds us back from GOING to the Promised Land. (Fear of the wilderness?)
"Why do we sin?" The answer, strangely enough (at least, in today's culture) is that we sin because we fear death.I can see this...well part of it at least. Wrapping ourselves up in all manner of pleasures is a wonderful distraction. But I suspect there is also deeper meaning here too...definitely something to think upon.