Christ is Risen! and Now We Wait

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.”


Visit our shop to order Sympathy Cards.

Prayer Inside reads:
With the Saints give rest, O Christ,
to the soul of Your servant
where there is no pain,
nor any sorrow, nor any sighing,
…but Life everlasting.
From Orthodox Funeral Service
Item #: 10-002

 

 

Christ is Risen! (One Last Time)

This is it! After forty days of celebrating our Lord’s resurrection, this is the last week to joyfully proclaim the Good News!   Christ is Risen!   He has conquered death by death, granting life to those in the tombs and opening the doors of paradise to all.

Ascension is this Thursday.

And Ascension marks the Leave-taking of the Paschal Season, forty days after Jesus’ Resurrection, when He continued to teach and instruct His Disciples on God’s desires and plan for humanity.  (Luke 24: 45-54)

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

The Ascension of Jesus

50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple,praising God.

Things you might notice in church after Ascension

  • We’ve stopped singing Christ is Rise, (Before Liturgy begins, at the Small Entrance, after Communion, and at the very end.)
  • The priest is not holding a candle.
  • We go back to singing “More Honorable than the Cherubim” after the Consecration of the Gifts.
  • The priest might be wearing a different color although any of the “bright colors” are an option outside of Lent.

Quick little trivia… Ascension is always on a Thursday.   Forty days after a Sunday is always a Thursday.  🙂 

Waiting for Pentecost and the Holy Spirit

One thing that wont change is the kneeling part.  We will continue to stand during the Consecration of the Gifts until the Kneeling Prayers that are read during Pentecost.

Worship protocol calls for us to always stand for the Consecration on Sundays  because Sunday is always a Day of the Resurrection.   But historically and for practicing purposes, most Greek Orthodox churches kneel for the consecration.

Yes, it seems people have stopped kneeling in personal prayer and no longer attend weekday Liturgies… so if we didn’t kneel on Sundays, when would we learn to kneel in prayer?  When would we experience this important posture in prayer?  This is why kneeling is permitted on Sundays while acknowledging it is not the best option.

So there it is!   You have 5 more days to sing Christ is Risen.  Then it goes back into the Treasure Box of Traditions until next year.  But don’t start kneeling on Sundays until the Kneeling Prayers on Pentecost- 50 days after Jesus’ Resurrection.

It’s not too late to send a card proclaiming the God News!