Friday, January 22, 2010

We waited...

Bishop NIKOLAI Velimirovich of Ohrid once said as he was present at Pascha in Jeruslaem, "We waited, and at last our expectations were fulfilled. When the Patriarch sang 'Christ is Risen', a heavy burden fell from our souls. We felt as if we also had been raised from the dead. All at once, from all around, the same cry resounded like the noise o fmany waters. 'Christ is Risen' sang the Greeks, the Russians, the Arabs, the Serbs, the Copts, the Armenians, the Ethiopians--one after another, each in his own tongue, in his own melody...Coming out of from the service at dawn, we began to regard everything in the light of the glory of Christ's Resurrection, and all appeared better, more expressive, more glorious. Only in the light of the Resurrection does life receive meaning."

Though NIKOLAI's narrative goes into great length about the joy and the benefits of Pascha, the first two words of his description deserve special attention: We waited. In this context, I am sure he is speaking more than just of waiting for the service to begin. I am quite sure that he is speaking of the waiting undergone during Great Lent and Holy Week for our Lord's Pascha.

Today begins Triodion. I can hardly believe that after the joy of Nativity and Theophany, we are so soon about to plunge ourselves into the holy season of repentance where we wait for our Lord's Pascha! In these four Sundays before the beginning of Great Lent, we recall the humility of the Publican, the repentance of the Prodigal as well as the rejoicing of the Father for such repentance, the Last Judgment of our Sins and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise. In all that, we wait...for Great Lent. Then Great Lent is upon us where we fast and pray and give alms, still waiting...for Pascha.

We wait, which means we prepare. And we have to prepare. Bishop NIKOLAI saw this clearly. Without the waiting, without the preparation there can be no rejoicing, there can be no sense that as the dead are raised, so we are raised from our sin. Without that preparation, our hearts are as empty as the empty tomb. And the empty tomb becomes an anecdote of history rather than the key to our salvation.

We cannot simply come into the presence of God. For those who only want 30 minute church services with happy clappy music and short prayers and no mention of sin, you are not asking for the presence of God. You are asking for the presence of the flesh to mask the presence of God. Though it is an insult to search out God since God is everywhere, it is insulting to suggest that one can simply come into the presence of God, whether by just entering a church or saying one short prayer or singing a hymn. Coming into the presence of God takes time and effort...a lot of them, too! Because we are so hardened in sin, we cannot see that God still does walk among us and even if we could see such a thing happening, many of us would not want it. You cannot simply come into the presence of God. You must prepare.

Infants must crawl before they can walk. Why do we lowly sinners demand that God reveal his majesty to us immediately before we can even look upon the light of the sun? It's probably sheer laziness. Preparation takes time and no one wants to rid themselves of their precious time which could be directed towards TV, family, business, work, sports, etc.

Even if it is impossible to prepare all the time, it is very possible to prepare some of the time, to make more effort than one would during the rest of the year.

Let us prepare. Let us purge ourselves of our sins. Let us desire God if only because He has desired us.

Blessed preparation to all of you!

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