This Friday and Saturday the Orthodox Church focuses its liturgical attention on the ancient hymn known as the Akathist, the “the hymn we sing unseated, i.e., Akathismos” (what hymn would you sing while seated methinks?). St. Romanos the Melodist was the author of the first Akathist, written in honor of the Theotokos (“Birthgiver of God”). It has its own particular poetic form. Many of the Saints now have Akathists written in their honor and they may be sung as part of the Vigil of a Feast, or, often, used largely by themselves as popular devotions.
The Akathist, honoring the Mother of God, is a veritable feast of theology on the economy of our salvation and the role of the Virgin in that economy. And this gives rise to the thoughts I offer in this post.
Salvation, the whole story, cannot be reduced to four spiritual laws (else the Apostles would have saved themselves a lot of time). Salvation is everything, Mother of God included.
Salvation is the incarnate Christ, taking flesh of his Mother, by the Holy Spirit.
Salvation is the miraculous, virgin birth of Christ, who enters our world without violence, either to human will or our flesh.
Salvation is the Theotokos pondering in her heart the mysteries of Christ long before anyone else had any thoughts on the matter.
Salvation is the leaping of John the Baptist in the womb of his mother at the sound of the voice of the Theotokos.
Salvation is the birth of Christ in humble circumstances, with shepherds and angels and the visit of the Magi.
Salvation is the Baptism of Christ in the Jordon by John.
Salvation is the resisting and vanquishing of the tempter in the Wilderness.
Salvation is the calling of the twelve and preaching to the crowds.
Salvation is the healing of the sick, the blind, the cripple.
Salvation is the raising of the dead, the forgiveness of sins.
Salvation is the Body and Blood of Christ, shared and eaten by His friends.
Salvation is the suffering of Christ in the Garden and his yielding to His betrayers.
Salvation is the scorn and spitting, the mocking and beating.
Salvation is the crucifixion of the Lord of Glory.
Salvation is the words of forgiveness spoken from the Cross.
Salvation is the gift of the Mother of God to the Church and the Church to the Mother of God.
Salvation is the promise of paradise to the thief who repented.
Salvation is the death of Christ on the Cross and His triumphant entry into Hades.
Salvation is the proclamation to those in bondage of the freedom now declared in Christ.
Salvation is Christ’s resurrection from the dead, His ascension into heaven and His sitting at the right hand of Power.
Salvation is accepting Christ as Savior and following in the way of His Cross.
Salvation is the forgiving of our enemies.
Salvation is prayer for the world.
Salvation is repenting constantly of our sins.
Salvation is trusting in God and His goodness above all things and in all things.
Salvation is naming Christ as Savior ’til one’s dying breath.
Salvation is reigning with Christ in heaven and sharing in His resurrection.
I have left so much out. Salvation is the whole of our life in Christ, indeed, it is God’s will that the whole of our life be salvation.
But as we celebrate the Mother of God in these next two days, let us remember that without her there is no story of salvation. We must tell the whole story, much more than I have said here. But let us long for all of it, and never yield to less than its fullness.
Feel free to contribute observations on “Salvation is…