“This is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it”, are the words we hear day after day during Bright Week. Starting early Sunday morning in the Orthodox Church after the faithful have encircled the church three times and stop at the front door, are the words which are proclaimed by the priest. The first words we hear on the steps of the church are: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs, bestowing life.” How many times have you heard these words ring out year after year and you never seem to get tired of hearing them. Why? Because they are words of hope for the living and the deceased. Jesus Christ showed us that there is no end to life after death. He proved that Himself, by dying on the Cross and then resurrecting from the dead.
As the service continues we also hear the priest proclaiming these words: “a day which the Lord hath made,” so that we may rejoice in it. Some say that Christ’s Nativity is the happiest day of the year, but today we hear the words which tell us to rejoice in this day for it is Holy and brings hope to all. The Lord did not make this day for you or me only. He did not make it only for the president of some country or some Prime Minister of a nation. The Lord did not make this day only for some Hollywood star or some famous sports figure. Surely and honestly God made this day for every living being that ever lived on the face of this earth. Yes God made this day for the Holy Saint, He made for the prisoner and those who forsake Him. The Lord made this day for every family, for the orphan, the widow and those who did not have an opportunity to know Him. This day God has created for the just and the unjust. And God created this day for those who died unexpectedly and those with long suffering. God created this day for the whole world. He created this day for the soldier injured on the battle field and for the one who died in the battle. This day was created for the police officer who died in the line of duty and the one that was injured. This day was created for the doctor and nurse who tenderly with loving care gave hope to the injured and the infirm. The Lord also created this day for the fireman and ambulance personal. This day was created by God for all humanity.
We sing the hymn: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.” How many times have you heard these words in your lifetime, and yet each and every year they are just as hopeful as if thou this scene happened just yesterday or today. Why is it that some great composers composed many beautiful compositions but somehow if you tried playing them each day they do not bring hope like the above words. Hope for the living because our Savior died unmercifully on the Cross for our sins, but also at the time a bright and hopeful future for: “those in the tombs bestowing life.” What great and wonderful hope for us living and our deceased loved ones. As you sit around your table at home, remember also those who are not with you at this hour. They may be at work, a great distance from home or may be with the Lord in heaven, so whatever remember them and pray for their soul here on earth or in heaven.
What other religion or faith in the world has such great hope and future for eternal life for those in the tombs(graves) who have already fallen asleep in the Lord? Year after year we fast for 40 days praying to Christ, and then comes, the Paska along with other foods is blessed in church and people hurry home to consume of the blessed food. If you prepared this same Easter food in October or July, it would not have the same taste and flavor as it does during His Resurrection. Why? This is something special and mystical that happens at this blessed time of the year, even like at Christ’s Nativity the “kutia” (wheat) always tastes different than if you would prepare it in June. There is something mystical that happens at that special time of Christ’s Birth and His resurrection. May this day bring to you and your loved ones a life full of joy: “and to those in the tombs bestowing life.”
CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!