Sunday, April 22, 2007

Before We Leave Easter

Easter was two weeks ago. But there's another sense in which, for us, it is every day. I think you'll find the following Easter sermon by John Chrysostom (349-407) encouraging. He was archbishop of Constantinople and wrote the liturgy that is used to this day in many Orthodox churches. He understood the Gospel.

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry.
Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
"You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!


  1. Thank you for the excerpt from Chrysostom.

    Indeed, let us not "leave" Easter for quite a while. Easter lasts for fifty days (until Pentecost), with the Feast of the Ascension at the forty-day mark. Plus, each and every Sunday is itself a "little Easter."

    It sounds a bit strange (to these ears) to hear it said that Chrysostom "understood" the gospel. (The strangeness is in both the judging and the judgment, given the universal affirmation of Chrysostom's life and work by both the eastern and western churches.) Also, I cannot help but wonder whether Chrysostom would recognize contemporary American Evangelicalism as adequately representing "the gospel."

    Happy Easter (for many more weeks)!

  2. Well, I'd hate for your ears to be stuck hearing the "same old same old" all the time.

    When I said he understood the Gospel, I wasn't intending to pass judgment as much as to endorse him to my evangelical subculture, so my friends would actually go ahead and take the 5 minutes to read the sermon.

    However, if you ever want to know where the Pope stands with God, just ask, and I'll be happy to fill you in. (smile)

  3. Arnold,

    Please don't be so irenic and conciliatory. How are we going to light a fire in your "combox" if you continue to be so nice and refuse to take offense?

    Mea culpa. Next time I'll try to be more obnoxious.

  4. Arnold,

    Thanks for the sermon--it is beautifully encouraging!

    I'm afraid it took me longer than five minutes to read it. Every line reminds me of Scripture.