07 April 2007

Something Strange

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrows the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: "My Lord be with you all." Christ answered him: "And with your spirit." He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying, "Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light."

I am your God, who for your sake has become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on a cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by the cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

--An Ancient Homily, read at Matins of Holy Saturday


wm cwirla said...

I will be reading the same at the Vigil this evening (I know it's for Matins, but we take certain liberties.)

Blessed Paschal Feast to you and yours.

William Weedon said...

Blessed Pascha to you and your parish also, William! We read it at Matins this morning (not a publicized service, just some of us gathering to pray the offices through the week) and tonight St. John Chrysostom will preach at Vigil. But that selection "Something Strange" is certainly a worthy text for the night!

wm cwirla said...

We will hear from St. John Chrysostom tomorrow morning. It simply isn't the Feast of the Resurrection without his Easter sermon.

wm cwirla said...

I must confess to a couple slight "modifications" in my reading of the anonymous homily that is posted to bring it more into line with our Scriptural understanding of the Tree of Life (not a symbol but a sacrament) and our glorification (the angels do not worship us as God).

I'm sure the anonymous preacher, whoever he was, who now beholds the Glorious Vision face to face, does not mind.

William Weedon said...

I think the key to the angel's worship reference is to remember what Christ said to Adam earlier: "You and I are now one." So it is the human nature which the angels worship! But I agree it is a bit shocking as it stands - and that's one of the reasons I really like it. : )

wm cwirla said...

That is certainly a charitable reading. Perhaps something is lost (or gained) in the translation. Be that as it may, the ancient texts when preached can use the occasional "dusting off," as also with the ancient hymns. With all due respect to our fathers in the faith, of course.

Blessed Pascha!
Christ is risen! Alleluia!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

That's the correct reading, William. Not simply a charitable one.

There is no way angels would ever worship us, in oruselves, as God! That obviously would be idolatry. But they worship us as TRUE members of Christ, inseparable from Him as the branches are from the Vine.

Christos Anesti!