The Risen Son and Sunrise

NikolaiVelimI liked this verse from Serbian Orthodox Bishop St. Nikolai Velimirovich as he looks at how the world might be affected if the sun behaved like a human being.   Frequently in Orthodox hymns and prayers there is expressed the notion that all of creation obeys God by simply following their natural paths – only humans rebel against God.  That image too is interesting – we often think of animals acting only on instinct, but the hymns suggest that actually they are obeying the role to which God has assigned them in creation.  Same is true of the Sun, moon and stars and other inanimate objects which  simply are what God has designed them to be.  One needs only think of Psalm 104 read at each Vespers which among other things says:  the wind is the messenger of God, the mountains and valleys rise and sink to their appointed places, the animals obey God as does the sun and moon.  The Akathist, “Glory to God for all Things,” says to God “all nature obeys you, I alone do not.”  Humans, the only creatures endowed with intelligence, free will, conscience and self awareness, as well as being created in God’s image and likeness and having a soul.  Despite our being creatures whom God favors with His gifts, humans still rebel against God.   Yet we are capable of learning even from the example of the inanimate sun how to serve God.  In his book PRAYERS BY THE LAKE  St. Nikolai wrote:

SunriseArise O sons of the Sun of God!  Arise, the merciful sun has risen and has begun to pour its light lavishly over the dark fields of the earth.  It has risen to set you free from sleep’s gloom and terror.
Your sins of yesterday are not written out on the sun.  The sun does not remember or seek revenge for anything.  On its face there are no wrinkles from your forehead, nor is there any sadness, envy, or sorrow.  Its joy lies in giving, its youth—its rejuvenation—lies in serving.  Blessed are those who serve, for they shall not grow old.

What if the sun were to imitate you, my neighbors?  How little light it would shed on earth, you misers!  How bloody its light would be, you murderers!  How green it would become with envy when it saw greater suns than itself, you envious people!  How red with wrath it would become when it heard the profanities below, you short tempered people!  How yellow it would become with yearning for the beauty of the stars, you greedy people!  How pale it would become with fear, you greedy people!   How pale it would become with fear, if no on marked its way, you cowards!  How dark it would become with worry, you worrisome worriers!   How wrinkled and old it would become living on yesterday’s wrongdoing, you vengeful people!  How astray it would go from the right way if it fought over rights, you auctioneers of rights!  How cold and dead it would become, and how it would envelope the entire universe with its death, you preachers of death!

Oh how fortunate it is for the world that the sun will never imitate you, O sons and daughters of earth!

Indeed, the sun does not know many things as you do, but it does know two things eternally:  that it is a servant and a symbol.  It knows that it is a servant of the One who kindled it and that it is a symbol of the One who put it at His service.  Be servants of the One who illuminates you with the sun on the outside and with Himself on the inside, and you will taste the sweetness of eternal youth.

Be  a symbol of the One who put you among the animals of the earth, and you will surpass the radiance of the sun.  Truly all the animals around you will swim in happiness beneath the rays of your goodness, even as moons swim around suns.

The Sun obeys God and shines eqaully on the righteous and on the wicked  (Matthew 5:45).

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