Sunday, May 1, 2016

The risen Christ

People have this idea that Easter time, the season of resurrection, should be all flowery and cheerful, with nature coming back to life and all. It seems to make the idea of Christ’s coming back to life more meaningful, in fact, it seems to push out almost any other meaning His resurrection can have, for some people. Hence, the fascination for floral arrangements, colored eggs, baby chicks and bunnies. But it’s really just a coincidence of nature, an instance of God’s ikonomía, His plan of salvation, interacting with the created world. In the southern hemisphere, the world is descending into autumn at Pascha, not ascending to spring.

That’s really alright. Christ is not a ‘dying and rising god’ whose myth tries to infuse meaning into the annual cycle of vegetation. That’s the function of the baalim and elilim, the divine ‘nothings,’ Osiris, Tammuz, and Adonis. No, Christ is nothing like them. For one, He lived as a real man in a country and time we know with reliable certainty. Not only that, but the stories about Him are not folk tales and myths full of imaginary exploits. He really did do the things the bible says He did. Moreover, His dying and rising again to life, though it seems at shallow glance to be just another example of the dying and rising gods of folklore, also really did happen, and it’s attested to by a multitude of witnesses who agree in all but minor details. That’s the history lesson part of it…

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not even mere history, though it’s rooted there. It’s not even a ‘one point in time’ event, but rather an opening out of time into another realm of being, one that unlike the myths is not just a story to be retold or reenacted, but a reality in which a man can live even to this very day. Why is that? Because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, death has no hold on Him, and He dies no more, and neither does anyone who believes and lives in Him. ‘I am the resurrection and the life…’

Back to the weather. Yes, it’s glorious. The winds are warm and the sun seems supernaturally bright, yet with a kind of brightness that opens our eyes even wider and permits us to see what we couldn’t see as well before. It’s no mere word play that the week following Pascha should be called ‘Bright Week.’ Nature may be cooperating this year and providing a natural metaphor to accompany the real brightness—that of the Son of God, the Light of the world, who was dead and is Alive—but it is that other radiance that is the effect of Pascha. It opens our spiritual eyes to see ourselves and the world around us as we really are.

Knowing thus the Lord in His resurrection, and walking in this unwaning brightness, how is it that we can still sin?

We learn that we do not sin less because we don’t want to sin more, but because we can’t sin more. We would sin more if we could, but Christ has removed our sins as far from us as the East is from the West. When we are weak, He strengthens us and so arranges circumstances that we can find an escape from occasions of sin—if we want to. In fact, He makes it hard for us to sin, so when we do, we can see by the brightness of His resurrection the truth about ourselves, and turn to Him asking for mercy.

Christ is the faithful, the true. We can know this not by mere hearsay, but because He has treated us with such kindness by remaining with us to this very hour, just as He promised.

‘And lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the world…

This is the risen Christ,
who was, who is, and who is to come,
the Pantokrator.


Sasha said...

Christ is risen, brother!
Beautiful icon. :)

Sasha said...

Christ is risen, brother!
Beautiful icon. :)