Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice.
Let the whole world visible and invisible, keep the feast.
For Christ risen is our eternal joy.
(from Paschal Matins, Ode 1)
While some Christian traditions narrowly focus the salvific work of Christ to His death on the cross, the Orthodox tradition celebrates the very person of Jesus Christ as being the locus of salvation. It is not just one event (His crucifixion) which brings about the salvation of the world, but His very being and entire life which transfigures and transforms the entire cosmos in the promised new creation. It is not just human which needs to be forgiven, but also creation itself is in need of regeneration, which occurs in the person of Jesus Christ. St. Paul makes this very clear in his Epistle to the Romans:
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:18-23)
All of creation is redeemed and freed from bondage to decay and death! St. Paul writes of creation anthropomorphically as creation itself, the entire universe, longed for and eagerly awaited and anticipated the salvation of the fallen human race. This is based in the notion that God made the created world for us human, and our fall through sin introduced death into the created world, thus disturbing the natural order as the world fell with us through separation, disintegration and alienation into death.
In the resurrection of Christ, creation itself begins to experience its own restoration and reunion with God our Creator.
Your resurrection, O Christ our Savior,
Has enlightened the whole universe,
Recalling Your creation.
Glory to You, O Almighty Lord!
(Apostikha of Paschal Vespers)
Pascha, the resurrection of Christ from the dead, means death is destroyed, and all the people of the world and even all creation can again make God the Lord of our lives and existence. He is after all the Lord of the living (Luke 20:38) for He makes all to live! Death no longer has dominion, it is defeated even though it continues to claim power over all the empirical world. The faith and hope of Christianity is that death is shown to be the real temporary condition – life reigns and in Christ is made eternal.
Let creation rejoice! Let all born on earth be glad!
For hateful hell has been despoiled.
Let the women with myrrh come to meet me;
for I am redeeming Adam and Eve and all their descendants,
and on the third day shall I arise!
(from Paschal Nocturnes, Ode 9)
[The photos in this blog were taken on Pascha Sunday, April 15, or during Bright week – as walked around to see what creation was doing as we celebrated its redemption from the bondage to which it had been subjected.
You can see more of the photos on my Flickr site at April Day or an April Sunrise.]