A Time to Weep and a Time to Laugh
Today, a season of joy is closing. We call it the Leave-taking of Pascha. And like the Apostles two thousand years ago, we might be feeling a little empty. Perhaps there is a twinge of mourning knowing that we won’t be singing the triumphal hymn, “Christ is risen” on Sunday. We will most likely miss the “Good News” greeting we’ve grown accustomed to.
In the forty days following Easter we greeted each other with the joyful news that Christ is risen! The season of Great Lent and preparation ended and we were in the season of joy.
What difference does it make to say “Christ is risen!”? It’s a tool the Orthodox Church uses to remind us that we are a living expression of faith for today and not a symbol or a ritual associated to an ideology. We are for the moment, not for a museum. We celebrate things in the present tense. We are part of the “now.”
A Time for Everything
So why should we stop singing Christ is Risen? Is He suddenly un-risen? Is He no longer in Heaven?
I think we stop because the church traditions acknowledge that we are living in a temporary reality where things are constantly changing, We experience things in seasons: The moon waxes and wanes, the tides rise and fall, the weather heats and cools. And it isn’t just our physical environment.
Whether you’ve heard the “The Byrds” hit song or read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, you know wheat I mean:
A Time for Everything
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
And this is now the time to close the season of Pascha and prepare to welcome the Season of the Holy Spirit and the growth of the Church.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. (John 14:16-17)
And in Matthew 28:19-20 with the Great Commission
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
So, in a way, it’s almost time to move forward and do something with the warm fuzzy feelings and inspiring moments we experienced during the Paschal Season. It’s almost time to take our joy to the streets and get to work on making disciples and growing the church. And I say “almost” because there is one thing I haven’t mentioned yet.
Waiting is a Lost Art
There is something to be said about waiting. The time where you stop for a moment and let things stew. Any Dr. Seuss fan who’s read The Waiting Place knows what I mean. We are now in a waiting place, a ten day gap between Ascension and Pentecost where the Apostles waited. It’s funny because although there are no outwardly expression in worship or hymnology that talks about this sacred time, we have to respect the waiting process.
It’s important to learn how to wait. In waiting we guard our thoughts so they don’t work ahead of ourselves and turn to anxiety and fear. We can use it as an opportunity for self reflection and growth. But today our society and therefore our kids, who are so in-tune to her needs, have a heightened tendency to push through the waiting process. Waiting is equated to boredom and boredom is the curse of doom and despair.
Waiting can actually be the most exciting and thrilling time of the season. It’s that repetitive clank you feel as the roller coaster reaches for its summit to be sure it has the momentum to get you to the end of the ride. It’s those moments when the clay is still malleable as the artist plays with its form, and later hardens in the kiln to be sure it keeps its shape.
Now, imagine the Apostles and how they waited. They didn’t know they’d only have to wait ten days for the Holy Spirit. And now after 2,000 years, we are still waiting for Christ’s return.
So I encourage you to take advantage of these ten “waiting days” as we prepare for the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Giver of Life, the Spirit of Truth. Use these ten days to prepare for Pentecost. There aren’t any specially subscribed fasts associated with the next ten days, but there is a Saturday of Souls next week where we prepare koliva, memorial wheat, for those asleep in the Lord.
May you find peace and comfort in these “waiting days.”