Sunday, March 2, 2014

Cast out

Today was the last Lord's Day before the beginning of the Great Fast (Sarakostí, ‘Lent’), beginning tomorrow, Monday (Kathará Dheftéra, ‘Clean Monday’). As the day begins at sundown according to the scriptures, the first service of Sunday (Kyriakí, ‘the Lord's [day]’) was the vesper service on Saturday night. I want to invite my readers and visitors to join us on the journey to Pascha. To start on this pilgrim way, I would like to share with you some of the spiritual poetry that comprised our worship for this day.

The Lord, my Creator, took me as dust from the earth,
and with the breath of life He gave me a soul
and made me a living creature.
He honoured me as ruler on earth over all things visible
and as a companion of the Angels.

But Satan the deceiver, using the serpent as his instrument,
enticed me by food,
separated me from the glory of God and gave me over to the earth
and to the lowest depths of death.

But as Master and compassionate, call me back again.

Wretch that I am, I have cast off the robe woven by God,
disobeying Your divine command, Lord, at the counsel of the enemy,
and I am clothed now in fig leaves and in garments of skin.

I am condemned to eat the bread of toil in the sweat of my brow,
and the earth has been cursed
so that it bears thorns and thistles for me.

But, Lord, who in the last times were made flesh of a Virgin,
call me back and bring me into Paradise again.

O precious Paradise, unsurpassed beauty,

tabernacle built by God, unending gladness and delight,
glory of the just, joy of prophets, and dwelling place of saints,
with the sound of your leaves implore to the Maker of all
to open for me the gates which I closed by my transgression,
and may count me worthy to partake of the Tree of Life,
and of the joy in which I delighted when I dwelt in you
before Adam was banished from Paradise through disobedience
and cast out from delight, beguiled by the words of a woman.

Naked he sat opposite the place,
lamenting, Woe is me!

Therefore let us all make haste
to accept the season of the Fast
and obey the traditions of the Gospel,
that through them we may become
well-pleasing to Christ
and once more receive Paradise as our dwelling.

Adam sat opposite Paradise and, lamenting his nakedness, he wept,

Woe is me! By evil deceit was I persuaded and robbed,
and exiled far from glory.

Woe is me! Once naked in my simplicity, now I am in want.

But, Paradise, no longer shall I enjoy your delight;
no more shall I look upon the Lord my God and Maker,
for I shall return to the earth whence I was taken.

Merciful and compassionate Lord, I cry to you,
Have mercy on me who am fallen.

Through eating Adam was cast out of Paradise.

And so, as he sat in front of it, he wept,
lamenting with a pitiful voice and saying,

Woe is me, what have I suffered, wretch that I am!

I transgressed one commandment of the Master,
and now I am deprived of every good thing.

Most holy Paradise, planted because of me
and shut because of Eve,
pray to him who made you and fashioned me,
that once more I be filled with your flowers.
Then the Saviour said to him,

I do not want the creature which I fashioned to perish,
but to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth,
because the one who comes to me
I will in no way cast out. 

(John 6:37)

‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’
John 11:25-26 NIV

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