Sunday, April 28, 2019

Christ is risen!

Truly He is Risen! (traditional Paschal greeting).  

In the Orthodox Church they go through a litany of languages, saying the greeting and response in English, Greek, Arabic, Russian and so on.  While on one side, the Orthodox are keenly aware of the growth of nationalistic identities within the Church, they also labor to remind people that there is supposed to be only One orthodox Church (something we pray Orthodox and Catholic believers will realize sooner rather than later).  Hence today, on actual Pascha Sunday, we observe the Agape Vespers, in which the bulk of the time is spent with various members reading the Gospel passage in their different languages. 

Because today is Easter, or Pascha!  The High Holy day of the year.   With each passing day I realize faith is increased as we cease putting so much faith in the material world and the dogma of progress.  Those things have their place of course.  The World gets it right sometimes, and STEM has its place.  And overall we do figure things out in the long, long run.  But until we rethink the model of Creation over the atheistic model of the universe we've come to accept, and the place of Faith over materialism, people will continue to struggle and, worse I fear, leave the Faith.

Today is a day where we believe the unbelievable - a story that has no place in a world of smartphones, computers, digital programming and DNA research.  Not that it is incompatible.  It's just that those things should occupy a small corner of our world, instead of dominating the world.  The larger the portion they occupy, the more ludicrous and unbelievable the Passion of Christ becomes.

In the world of Christianity (one of Christian Creation vs. a material universe), this is not the premier event just because of today, it's the premier event because Creation admits to the relatively small role the universe plays in God's schemes.  Rather than that 'insignificant dot' we often see our world (and hence humanity) portrayed as, we are the apple of God's eye.  To God, we are the vast, unimaginable reality.  That canvas upon which we are painted - the universe - is just small  potatoes.

But in our (correct) view, today becomes the premier event of Creation. If the universe doesn't admit to it, that is merely because a canvas does not admit to the charm of Bob Ross or the beauty of his creation.  That doesn't take away from the importance of the canvas, or the lack of Bob Ross's existence.  It merely reminds us that the priority has never been the canvas, but the artist and the painting he creates - which is us.

So with that, we celebrate the pinnacle of the story God wrote featuring us.  Not some tiny speck of cross on a tiny speck of planet with an insignificant bunch of specks called people.  But with His very Son, His own Self, and all for love of what really matters to God, and that is us.  It is a love that puts us in the center of all things, dominating everything, including that tiny spec of matter we call the universe.

Shine! Shine! O New Jerusalem! The glory of the Lord has shone upon you! Exult and be glad O Zion! Be radiant 0 Pure Theotokos, in the Resurrection of your son!

UPDATE:  Here are a few examples of the Pascha greeting in the Orthodox tradition (sent by our priest):
Christ is Risen!  Truly He is Risen! 
Maseeh Qam! Haqqan Qam! 
Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti!  
Hristus A Inviat! Adeverat a Inviat! 
Christos Voskrese! Voistinu Voskrese!
A reminder that Christ belongs to the world, and that we are all of God.

We will hear this triumphant greeting through the Paschal season.  No fasting either (which is a relief, but that's for another post).  This is how you are greeted in church.  Not Hi, Hello, How are you?  It's Christ is Risen!  To which you reply 'Truly He is Risen!'.  Or according to the languages above (which are but a few). 


  1. I don't think I've seen it explained, but why is the Orthodox Easter a week later than the other?

  2. Long and short, because many Orthodox still follow the Julian Calendar in this regard (and some monastic communities follow it year round), while holding to the old Nicene formula for calculating it. Some are pushing to change and align it to the Western/Gregorian calendar, but Orthodox change in geological time. Sometimes it's on the same day, and sometimes it's more than a month later. As far as I know, it's never before the Western date for Easter.


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