Christ is Risen! Хрїсто́съ воскре́се! Χριστὸς ἀνέστη!
In our increasingly secular times, we are told that death is natural and we should accept it as such. A human being, an animal, even a plant is born, matures, grows old and dies. This is called the cycle of life. But from a Christian perspective, death is not natural. God did not create death. Death is the most unnatural thing in the world. God created humanity for eternal life, for an embodied life with God. It is only with human sin that death entered the world. Adam and Eve sinned by partaking of the ‘forbidden fruit’ and were subjected to death. Even so, death is not simply a punishment. When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil they sinned against God. If they had eaten of the Tree of Life they would have become immortal. This may sound good, but it would mean that they would have lived forever with the stain of sin on their souls. To prevent this God subjected them to mortality in the knowledge that he would send his Son, Jesus Christ, to save humanity from sin and death.
Sometimes people think that the Christian belief that people’s bodies die, and their souls go to heaven to live with God. However, this is a pagan way of looking at things. For Christians, life is an embodied life, a life lived in union of soul and body. The separation of soul and body at death is unnatural. Therefore, when Christ comes at the end of time all the dead will rise to a new, embodied life, a life that will be eternal. This is what men and women are created for.
Christ’s resurrection is the origin of our salvation. The resurrection is not simply an event in the past. Rather, when we are baptized we become partakers of Christ’s death and resurrection. Just as Christ was in the tomb for three days, so we went down into the water of the baptismal font three times. And just as Christ was raised from the tomb, we were raised from the font to become partakers of a new resurrection life. We will not fully experience resurrection until Christ comes again, but we participate in this life here and now, especially when we received Holy Communion.
All of this means that Christ’s resurrection is not simply an event of the past. Every Easter we experience the joy of resurrection life. Easter lasts forty days but during those days we should never forget that Christ’s resurrection even though we are busy with daily life.
Beyond this, every Sunday is a mini-Pascha in which we receive the Body and Blood of Christ in the sacrament of Holy Communion.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the heart of the Christian faith. It is, as St. Paul writes “…if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” But Christ is risen, and we share in this joy.