It is not until the evening Service, the Matins and Liturgy of the Resurrection, that we stand on the steps of the Church and proclaim to all the world: “Christ is Risen! ” The exuberant joy of Pascha then fills the Church, with the services of the Great Feast-of-Feasts upon which our whole faith is based. The clergy repeatedly shout out “Christ is Risen! “in as many languages as are represented in the congregation, and the people respond: “Truly He is Risen! ” The services almost seem to be rushed, as we become more and more exuberant in our joy. Here is our Salvation made full:

“In the flesh Thou didst fall asleep as a mortal man, O King and Lord. Thou didst rise on the third day, raising Adam from corruption and destroying death: O Pascha of incorruption, the salvation of the world!” (Exapostallarion)

This feast is for all, as St. John Chrysostom explains: “The Lord both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, honors the act and praises the offering…You sober and you heedless, honor the day! Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast: the table is full laden…! “

Since we have had Divine Liturgy at midnight, we do not repeat it during the day. In the afternoon, however, we serve the Vespers of Love, as the Lord appears to the disciples in the upper room. The meaning of the resurrection becomes clearer as the news sinks in, and we begin to take God’s viewpoint, earlier expressed in the Homily of St. John Chrysostom. At the Apostikha of Vespers we sing:

“This is the day of Resurrection, let us be illumined by the feast: let us embrace one another. Let us call brothers and sisters even those that hate us, and forgive all by the resurrection; and so let us cry: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs, bestowing life!”

By opening ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit in the community, we are truly made present to these realities. This is no mere re-enactment, however skillfully produced. Because the events of Great Week and Pascha are historical, but also transcend history, we can enter into them by the power of the Holy Spirit, and be filled with them: “Come, let us drink a new vintage from the fount of incorruption, springing from the tomb of Christ. In Him we are established!”