Christ is Risen! Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Risen Lord!
“Are you unaware that we who are baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were indeed buried with Him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life." (Romans 6:3-4)
Filled with joy in Jesus Christ who has risen from the dead and has raised up with Him the whole human race, I greet you with the words of the good news which have resounded throughout the ages and revealed the victory of our Christian faith: Christ is risen!
For us Christians, there is not a more triumphant and greater event in all of history than the Resurrection of Christ which brings salvation and Eternal Life. What is significant for us is that we experience the Holy Resurrection, not just as an event of history, but as the triumph of the genuine encounter with Christ, the Giver of Life, who has risen from the tomb. This is why our hearts are filled with a special joy, not only on Easter Sunday, but throughout our days.
In the main hymn of the Resurrection, we sing “Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!” By his own death and resurrection, Jesus has conquered death and gives to each one of us the chance to transform our life, to become “partakers of divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4) as He raises us from the tomb of separation from God, sin and despair.
Saint Paul reminds us that Jesus suffered and died to show us the path to resurrected life: “Are you unaware that we who are baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were indeed buried with Him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life." (Romans 6:3-4) Our Lord invites us to follow Him on this path, to live in the “newness of life,” which has come by His Resurrection. This means that we can find the joy and hope of His Resurrection in our lives today, and every day of the year.
What does the bodily resurrection of Christ mean for those who believe? If we know Jesus was raised from the dead, then our faith in that one event gives the rest of life meaning, purpose, hope, and strength. This means that in Christ, we have been given the power to be raised up, in the resurrection of the body after death, and out of every pit that we may fall into during our earthly life. The resurrection of Christ is affirmed every time we overcome the temptation to think that we are alone in any aspect of our life. The resurrection of Jesus is affirmed every time we turn to God for help when we are challenged or faced with a difficult problem. We affirm the resurrection each time we embrace the forgiveness for our terrible sins and when we forgive others by the power of the love that comes from the Lord's Tomb. We affirm the resurrection each time we courageously and fearlessly face the death of a loved one, for that Savior shows us “death is no more!”
So on this day, and every day, let God also arise in our hearts that we might “ walk in the newness of life,” replacing our sinful self with a renewed one, as we embrace one another, having forgiven everything by the resurrection, so that we might again acquire our spiritual strength, our happiness, and our true life in Christ, the Victor over hell and death!
At Pascha, 2017
Protopresbyter Nicholas Ceko