|37 - Pentecost, June 3, 2012|
John 7:37-42, 8:12
The Church is the union of this material world with the glory of God in the mystery of Christ. In all her liturgical rites, sacramental mysteries, her icons, hymns, prayers, dogmas, ecclesiastical appointments, in all her “things” she is the embodiment of Christ, His continuing Incarnation in the glory of His life-giving Cross, transformed by His sacred Pascha into a weapon of victory radiant with life.
The liturgical movements of the Church's daily and weekly and yearly worship, by which she measures the movement of space-time in the essential principle of its being, are the spiritual reality of biblical history. They reveal space-time in its essential principle to be a spiritual Exodus on a path of ascent that leads from the deliverance of Adam out of the dark abyss of His Fall up Mt Sinai, Mt Tabor and finally Golgotha, all the way back to the Garden of Eden at the summit of Mt Zion. This union between the material world and the spiritual world of heaven, the movement of history with the ascension of Christ is the mystery of the Church, effected by the Holy Spirit.
There is a power that fills all the “things” of the Church, a power that unites them to Christ and makes them alive in the glory of Christ that He had with the Father from before the creation of the world. That power is the Holy Spirit; it is the power of God that is able to call the world into existence from nothing, the power to destroy death by death, and the power to give life to the dead.
The authority of the Church comes from the power of the Holy Spirit that is in her, the power to raise the dead and to make them live. There is no argument with this life-creating power that is in the Church; for to defy her authority is to invite death. It is in the power of the Holy Spirit that the Church can take children of flesh and blood and make them children of God, born of the Spirit from above.
When we enter the Church, we enter into the glory of Christ; we step onto the Path that is Christ Himself that is ascending through time up to the Holy of Holies, the sanctuary of the temple of the world: that is the human heart where the glory of God wants to dwell to make us body and soul radiant with life.
One simply cannot enter into the Church and continue to live in the world. For, the Church is in Exodus, she is on the path (odos) of Christ that is moving away from (ex) the world of “Egypt”, taking those who receive Christ in the obedience of faith with her. She is the cosmic ark of Noah riding the stormy sea of life to the calm haven of Paradise at the top of Mt Ararat. If we continue to live by the worldly values that shape our secular culture, we are making our home in Egypt that the Church is leaving.
When we come into the Church, we unite ourselves to Christ in whom the glory of God dwells bodily. Here we encounter the God who alone was able to descend into the tomb of our heart and to penetrate the thick wall of death all the way to our soul that lay dead in the tomb of our heart, and to touch the corpse of our soul with His Glory, to breathe on us the Holy Spirit, and to raise us to life as children of God and to clothe us in the Robe of Light, the Garment of Immortality. In the mystery of the Church alone do we find ourselves immersed in the living waters of the Holy Spirit that flow from the side of Christ and catch us up in their stream that ascends up to the Garden of Eden at the summit of Mt Zion.
Here is the vision of the believing Orthodox Christian: Christ crucified, Christ resurrected, Christ ascended in glory, Christ pouring out the Living Waters of His Holy Spirit on all who receive Him in fear, faith and love. Here is the vision of creation, the revelation of why we exist, why we were created that inspires the believing Orthodox Christian with hope and joy: we were created to become the temple of God in whom Christ God dwells bodily that we may live in Him forever in the life-giving power of His Glory. We were created for nothing less than to become partakers of God’s own glory and virtue, illumined and vivified in body and soul as a sacred temple of God in whom God loves to dwell, continually offering Himself to us on the altar in the sanctuary of our heart that we might be made alive in Him as children of God in the Glory and Life-giving Power of His divine nature, making us one with Him even as He is one with the Father in the Glory of the Holy Spirit.
O Most Holy Theotokos, save us! O Holy Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us! Glory to Jesus Christ!