Journey into the Winter Pascha

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This morning, following the rubrics of the Church, we did the service of the Royal Hours, which include readings from Old Testament and Epistle and Gospel for each of the services of the Hours (1st, 3rd, 6th, and 9th). Also much incense.

It is a service that in structure will be repeated again before the Theophany as well as during Holy Week before Pascha. It signals that each of these services have something in common – and that Pascha is the key. I have always said that Pascha is simply the key to everything.

But the Church in her services, just as in her icons, again draws the attention of the faithful to the Paschal shape of our Lord’s ministry and revelation.

The great climax of Christmas (now there’s something I’ve never thought of before) comes at the birth of Christ. Hell will shake at this triumphant entry. Even though the Holy Innocents will be slaughtered and the Holy Family will flee to Egypt, it is simply “ducking” the falling debris of a Kingdom that is crumbling.

Now God’s feet touch the earth, its air fills His lungs. He drinks deep from the milk that His mother gives. He will cry.

But even though he will cry like any baby, calling for human help, it is still the cry of God, a sound that will break the bonds of hell itself.

In one interpretation of the name Sheol, the implication of silence is heard. “Who can praise you from the grave?” Thus the voice of God crying in the night is a sound that must make every tree and rock tremble with anticipation.

It is in light of such that we ourselves must not forget to give alms, to lighten the burden of those around us, to make every effort to set captives free and give sight to the blind. Our King and Savior draws near.

17 comments:

  1. -it is simply “ducking” the falling debris of a Kingdom that is crumbling.-

    Father,

    I find this to be a beautiful comment. It seems to be very easy to forget that the Lord’s kingdom comes at the cost of every other kingdom. His birth was as much an assualt on “the world” as it was a gift to the world. It does us good to remember that the Lordship of Christ is just as political and social as it is spiritual, sacramental, and mystical. In fact- to separate these things would be to compartmentalize Christianity, something which you’ve spoken against.

    Merry Christmas, Father.

  2. Father,
    I love this sentance, “Even though the Holy Innocents will be slaughtered and the Holy Family will flee to Egypt, it is simply “ducking” the falling debris of a Kingdom that is crumbling.”

    Christmas has become, in popular observance, all about these poor kids and how they are lost in the world (see http://iamasheep.blogspot.com/2004/12/on-christmas.html). To which I say, balderdash!

  3. Doh! It’s because I messed up and left it off the calendar. But announced it last week in Church (where there is such a plethora of announcements that it’s easy to overlook). A secretary would be a good idea at some time. I can type, I can do lots of secretarial things, it’s just that I forget a lot. I blame it on age, but that can’t really be it. After all, I’m a very young man!

  4. Actually, I’ll make it a point in the future to make sure that the web site calendar has all the services listed in the bulletin. Might as well be part of the solution!

  5. “But even though he will cry like any baby, calling for human help, it is still the cry of God, a sound that will break the bonds of hell itself.”

    There is such simple beauty and truth in your words…yet they present a startling image.

    What a wonderful post.

  6. I suggest a church yahoogroup 🙂 We would have loved to come too…I was saying to David today, “I have never experienced this before, this feeling of wanting to go to church every single day!”

  7. Tia,

    If I can remember my brain this weekend, I’ll put something in the bulletin about interest in a church yahoo group. Seems to me we have lots of yahoos around the place. 🙂

  8. I am reminded of the chorus of a Bruce Cockburn song:

    Like a stone on the surface of a still river,
    Driving the ripples on forever,
    Redemption rips through the surface of time
    In the cry of a tiny babe.

  9. This is really nice and adds a new (new for me at least) perspective on Christmas. Thanks for this post, Father. 🙂

    Adam

  10. “Like a stone on the surface of a still river
    Driving the ripples on forever
    Redemption rips through the surface of time
    In the cry of a tiny babe”

    -chorus of Bruce Cockburn’s Cry of A Tiny Babe.

    I’ve always found that lyric evocative. Father, thanks for articulating all the theological meaning it contains.

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