Last night our little congregation stood outside in the mist and, raising our candles in the sign of the cross, proclaimed and celebrated the resurrection. For the next forty days we greet each other with the best news a man or woman can hear; Christ is Risen! Why is this so? Here is the answer, taken from the Paschal Sermon of St John Chrysostom, read as part of the service:
Let no one bewail his poverty,
For the universal Kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for his iniquities,
For pardon has shown forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death,
For the Savior's death has set us free.
He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.
By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh.
And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry:
Hell, said he, was embittered
When it encountered Thee in the lower regions.
It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain.
It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.
It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.
O Death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead,
Is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be glory and dominion
Unto ages of ages.
When we proclaim that Christ is risen, we share the news that all the fears and frustrations of daily life, that the crisis of nations and the plots and plans of politicians are all the last gasps of a dying order. This truth supercedes what we read in the papers. This is the news that there is hope and more than hope; that we can live now in the first-fruits of the new world. Christ is Risen!
To read and hear the Paschal Greeting in 250 different languages, go here.