For from death to life and from earth to heaven has Christ our God led us as we sing the song of victory: Christ is risen from the dead! (Hymn of Pascha)
Great Lent is a spiritual journey. At the beginning of Lent, we began reading the Book of Genesis. We were expelled with Eve and Adam from Paradise and sent into this world in which we live. We migrated into Egypt with Joseph, and then God called us out of that great civilization into the desolate desert. Now at Pascha we travel from earth to heaven. Our sojourn has thus taken us from Paradise to this world, to the desert, to Hades and then back to the world and now to heaven itself. A journey from the earth to the moon is nothing compared to what we undertake every Lent! And that journey to the moon costs millions of dollars to get two people to the moon, while our spiritual journey was free and there is no limit to the number of people who can make the journey.
The Gospel reading for the Pascha midnight service, perhaps surprisingly, is not one of the Resurrection accounts, but rather from Chapter 1 of John which takes us back to the beginning of time, to the beginning of creation, to the Big Bang. This Gospel reading helps us understand the resurrection of Christ as a universal event – not something that happened at a moment 2000 years ago, but one which brings us to eternity.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
We thus travel every Great Lent the breadth and depth of time and space! Nothing is left untouched by Christ, not even death’s kingdom. Christ, the one in whom life dwells, brings life not only to Hades, but in baptism, He comes to dwell in each of us. As St Paul says:
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
We have the Word not only dwelling in our midst but also within each of us. As we prayed each time we celebrated the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts during Lent:
may we be united to Your Christ Himself, our true God, Who has said, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him,” that by Your Word, O Lord, dwelling within us and sojourning among us, we may become a temple of Your all-holy and adorable Spirit …
Throughout our long Lenten sojourn which has taken us from the beginning of time to its end (and just in 6 weeks!), Christ has sojourned with us – at every moment and in every place Christ is with us always and in all ways.
Our Lenten sojourn has accomplished what God intended from the beginning:
But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.
Christ is risen!
Wishing you a joyous celebration of the resurrection of Christ.