Sermon for the Feast of All Saints (Observed), November 3, 2019 (1 John 3:1-3)

“Hymn of Adoration to the Lamb” (1497-1498) from “The Revelation of St. John” by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). Houghton Library, Harvard. Wikimedia Commons.

This sermon was originally preached at Emmaus Lutheran Church, Dorsey, Illinois.


Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints.  It is a special celebration for us; we remember the life and faith of those who have gone before us and are now with Christ.  That is who the saints are; they are those who have departed this life in the faith. They are witnesses to us of the Christian life.

But what is the Christian life if we are to look at those saints who have gone on before us? What does it look like when it is modeled for us by those who have died in the faith that we know are all too human?  Those who we know were sinners in their lives, who fell far short of the glory of God? And what about the life modeled by those saints who are still living? They are sinners, all too human, too. We are all sinners.  We all know just how bad we can be, and those we remember as saints could be just as bad.

In the Old Testament Church (yes, it exists), we see many saints whose actions didn’t seem congruent with the sanctified life.  Adam and Eve, our first parents, disobeyed God and visited all the pain and suffering of sin upon creation. We’re still feeling it.  Noah, who followed God’s directions and saved his family from the great flood that God used to wipe the human slate clean, got drunk and made a fool of himself.  His descendant, Abraham, lied about his marriage and nearly put his wife in compromising situations with the Pharaoh of Egypt and with Abimelech, the king of the Philistines at Gerar.  His son Isaac did the same thing. His son, Jacob— who gives his name to the nation of Israel— steals his birthright from his brother Esau. Further down the line, David, Israel’s greatest king, has a man killed so that he can seduce that man’s wife.  And the list of Old Testament saints goes on, but sinners all of them.

And just look at the lives of the Apostles.  Saint Peter was a man with a bad temper who cut off a slave’s ear and constantly second-guessed Jesus.  Saints James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were hot-tempered, nicknamed the “Sons of Thunder” by Jesus himself because they wanted him to rain down fire on the heretics living in Samaria.  Saint Matthew had been a tax collector. Saint Paul, of course, oversaw the murder of Stephen and was a persecutor of the church. Though their lives were changed by their time with Jesus, their records weren’t spotless.  These saints who Jesus called to be his disciples were sinners, too.

And the saints of the later church were sinners, too.  Saint Augustine of Hippo, the great church father and writer, told us all about his past sins in his Confessions, in excruciating detail.  Saint Cyril of Alexandria, while a defender of orthodox theology regarding the nature of Christ, was also infamous for his tendencies to use violence and invective to get his way.  Jolly old Saint Nicholas may have punched a guy during the proceedings of the Council of Nicaea (though we’re not sure). Saint Olaf of Norway was a violent warrior-king, as was Saint Louis of France.  And our very own Martin Luther was often harsh in his words and wrote some rather unkind treatises toward the end of his life.

While an apocryphal story, as it goes, St. Nicholas of Myra was apparently fed up with Arius’ nonsense at the Council of Nicea and gave him a slap to the face. Image: Public Domain via http://www.aleteia.pl.

I know myself, too— and thanks to the Old Adam who lives in my bones, I know how “unsaintly” I can be and am.  I know I’ve personally broken every one of the Ten Commandments in one way or another, and I’m sure you have, too.  The worst part is, on account of our sinful nature, you and I cannot stop doing this. And yet you and I and all the folks I’ve named are Christians.  Saints. And all are imperfect and in many respects, far from Christlike. So on this Feast of All Saints, what is this Christian life supposed to look like when we sinful Christians carry it out so imperfectly?  How do we see Christ in the life of those who so often fall short of the glory of God? What makes a saint a saint?

Last week, after church, we were trying to determine which plaques in the entryway correspond to the windows here in the sanctuary.  Some of the associations are pretty obvious, but some less so. The Law and Gospel window is pretty easy to name, but what about the eternal life window?  And which one is the Christian Life window? Well, we think we figured out which one that is (and even if we’re wrong, I think I can make a compelling argument for it!).  If you look around behind yourself to the back right of the sanctuary, you’ll see a window with a big bird in a nest feeding its young.  

The Pelican Window at Emmaus Lutheran Church, Dorsey, Illinois. Photo by Rev. David Kern.
(We have since determined that this is the Passion Window, but I still think it is a good image of the Christian life and I’m sticking to it!)

That big bird that you see is a pelican.  In medieval times, it was believed that, when food was short, mother pelicans fed their young with blood from their breasts.  It is a powerful image of a mother’s sacrificial love for her offspring. The mother pelican feeds her young with her body to keep them alive; her flesh is their food, and her blood is their drink.  Of course, we know that in reality, pelicans don’t do this, but this is what the pelican motif alludes to when we see it in the church, and you’re probably noticing an apt analogy to another One who feeds and sustains his children with his blood.  Christ feeds and washes us with his blood in order to make us his children— like pelican chicks, we rely on him for our life and our sustenance, and he feeds us in turn with himself.  It’s a beautiful image of reliance upon Christ for all we have, especially the forgiveness of sins.  

It’s this image that our epistle reading is pointing to this morning.  The Apostle John— that same John who was one of the hot-headed “Sons of Thunder”– is writing to the church in Ephesus to encourage the people there to stick to their faith in the face of those who were trying to lead them astray into various heresies and sowing discord among the congregation.  The lives of the people in the church at Ephesus were far from perfect. They needed a reminder of what the Christian life looks like, and John tells them.  

John reminds those to whom he is writing that they are children of God— that God loves them so dearly that he calls them his children now, even though they are imperfect sinners.  They are children of God, now, even though they have not seen him yet and are not like him.  But they have a promise, a promise that when he comes in glory, all who believe in him will be made to be like him, perfect, blameless, and purified.  And even now, they themselves are made pure just as their Lord is pure because they put their hope in him. The promise for them, though not realized fully, is already fulfilled when they trust Christ as their parent; when they are washed in his blood in baptism and fed on his body and blood in the Lord’s Supper.  This is their assurance–when they cleave themselves to him, like the chicks of the self-sacrificing pelican, they are made pure just as he is pure and have the assurance that they will see him as he is. This is the Christian life, living fully reliant on Christ for all they need, relying on him for strength even when they fail to live up to their title as his children.  As John writes, “each one who has this hope,” that they are children of God and will be like him when he comes, “purifies himself, just as he is pure.”  

“Pelican in her Piety” from Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, “A Complete Guide to Heraldry,” 1909. Pelicans became a popular symbol in heraldry. Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons.

We’re in the same position as the addressees of John’s letter.  We’re sinners living in a sinful world who live imperfectly in our Christian calling, but Christ makes us his children and invites us to trust in him until he comes.  He will make good on his promise. We have not received it in full yet, but in his body and blood we receive a foretaste of the full sustenance that will be ours when we are with the saints in glory.  And when we trust in him for this fulfillment of the promise, we start leaving off those sins that beset us daily, and though we will not be perfect, we start looking more like the saints that Christ call us. This is what justification and sanctification look like.

And we can take comfort in knowing that he has revealed to us that those who are departed from this life in Christ are experiencing the fulfillment of this promise and are living wholly reliant upon him in Heaven.  In John’s Apocalypse, John is shown “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands” (Rev. 7:9, NKJV). And the elder who is with him tells him who this multitude is:

“These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple. And he who sits upon the throne will dwell among them.  They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:14-17, NKJV).

Those who are with Christ living in his presence in Heaven are experiencing the joy and sustenance of the Christian life.  They live now in his care, relying on him for all their life and needs, and he is in their midst. But they still do not know fully what they will be.  They are not yet as they are supposed to be; they are souls without their bodies, and though they are in the joy of Christ’s presence, the best is yet to come.  They are not like him yet, but they will be— the promise still applies. Heaven will only last so long. When the Resurrection comes, this countless host arrayed in white will be resurrected, made whole and pure in body and soul.  Then they, and we, will be like Christ and see him as he is, perfected and wholly reliant on him in the new creation. There will be no more death, no more pain, no more crying or sorrow, and “no more curse…[because we] shall see his face, and his name shall be on [our] foreheads” (Rev. 22:3-5, NKJV).  Only then when all things are made new will we be truly pure as he is, living as his perfect children forever.

So when you find yourselves looking less than saintly, remember that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again to make you his children and lead you in the way you should go, and that no matter what your sins are, when you hold fast to this promise of his Gospel, he will deliver you from the power of sin that rules in your life.  When you and I trust him and look to him for our source of life, like the pelican’s chicks in the window back there, we can have hope that he will purify us to live with him in blessedness forever. We are sinners in this life, but in this promise, we are saints, and so we can join with the rest of the saints on this, the Feast of All Saints, those who have gone on before us and those yet to come, rejoicing and shouting “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:10 NKJV).

Amen!

Gaudete! Festum Asinorum!

“Toppling of the Pagan Idols (The Flight into Egypt): Isaiah 19:1, Pseudo-Matthew 22-23” (1423) by the Bedford Master

January 14 marks the old medieval “Feast of Asses” (“Festum Asinorum“), now an obscure and abandoned observance that, among other things, commemorated the flight into Egypt. It was part of the greater medieval Feast of Fools, which fell out of observance by the 15th Century. But it did give us a particular carol tune that you will no-doubt recognize, “Orientis Partibus“:

The Latin lyrics (while not quite the same as those in the above videos–kind of a conglomeration of the two) are as below. I offer a somewhat free translation from the Latin on my part (with thanks to the resources linked at The Hymns and Carols of Christmas for inspiration):

Orientis partibus
adventavit asinus,
pulcher et fortissimus,
Sarcinis aptissimus.

     Hez, Sir Asnes, hez!

Hic in collibus Sychen
iam nutritus sub Ruben
transiit per Jordanem
saliit in Bethlehem

Saltu vincit hinnulos
damas et capreolos
super dromedarios
velox madianeos

Aurum de Arabia
thus et myrrham de Saba
tulit in ecclesia
virtus asinaria

Dum trahit vehicula
multa cum sarcinula
illius mandibula
dura terit pabula

Cum aristis, hordeum
comedit et carduum
triticum ex palea
segregat in area

Amen dicas, asine
Iam satur ex gramine
amen, amen itera
aspernare vetera
From Eastern parts
A donkey came,
Strongest and handsome,
Best for burdens.

Hey, Sir Ass, hey!

Here among the hills of Schechem
Now nursed below the Red Sea,
He went across the Jordan,
Bounded into Bethlehem.

In leaping, he beats the mules,
Fallow deer, and roes.
He is above the camels,
The swift Median camels.

Gold from Arabia,
Incense and myrrh from Saba,
Donkey-strength
brought among the congregation.

While he drags carts
With many a little bundle,
This donkey’s jaws
Grind tough food.

He devours barley,
awns-and-all, and thistles;
He separates the wheat from the chaff
On the threshing floor.

Say amen, Ass,
Now full of grass!
Amen, amen, again
To spurn old things.

Read more about the Feast of Asses here!

Sermon for the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 2019 (Matthew 2:1-12), “The Gift to the Magi”

“The Journey of the Magi” (1894), by James Tissot (1836-1902), Minneapolis Museum of Art

Originally Preached at Living Savior Lutheran Church, Fairfax Station, Virginia.


Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Epiphany is here!  Do you know what that means?  Not only does it mean that we’re now in a new season of the church year, it means that we can finally acknowledge the arrival of the Three Wise Men who have been hanging out in the background of our Nativity scenes for the last few weeks.  We no longer have to pretend that they aren’t actually there yet. Now Melchior, Caspar, and Balthasar can give the Baby Jesus their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, pay him homage, and leave without telling Herod that they’ve found the King of the Jews.  And after today, they’re gone from the Gospel narrative, almost as swiftly as they came, returning to parts unknown.

NARA Poster featuring the Magi (1941-1945), Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services (National Archives)

We make a lot out of the visit of the Magi, as short and as quick as it is.  We get our tradition of giving one-another gifts at Christmas from our remembrance of their bringing gifts to the infant Christ.  We have stories and songs inspired by them and their example— think of O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Journey of the Magi,” or John Henry Hopkins’ carol, “We Three Kings (of Orient Are).”  And some of the images associated with Epiphany have bled into what are ostensibly Christmas hymns and carols. The one that comes to my mind is the beautiful and contemplative (and far more English than Judaean!) poem by the nineteenth century Italian-English poet, Christina Rossetti, which has become a staple of Lessons and Carols services: that poem titled, “In the Bleak Midwinter.”

If you know the poem, you know that the poem is largely a description of the setting in which the Christ child is born.  Rossetti describes the weather, the stable, the animals, the baby Jesus at his mother’s breast, the immensity of the miracle of his incarnation.  But the final verse is interesting, because Rossetti touches upon an all too human impulse in what she writes. She says,

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my Part;
Yet what can I give Him: give my heart.

Christina Rossetti, “In the Bleak Midwinter” (1872)

Rossetti’s persona in this poem, moved by the whole scene, wants to do something for the infant Jesus.  She wants to give him something, anything, and she cites the Magi: “If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part.”  But what this poem gets wrong, which the Biblical Magi and many of us get wrong as well, is that Jesus is not the sort of king we do something for.  Instead, he is a King who does something— everything— for us.

But first, who were the Magi, the “Wise Men?”  Nobody knows who they were or where they came from.  We don’t even know their names— the names we traditionally associate with them, Melchior, Caspar, and Balthasar, all come from a sixth century Greek work that was translated into Latin and titled The Latin Excerpts of the Barbarians.  We often think they might be Persian because the “magi” existed as a specific class of priests among the adherents of Zoroastrianism according to Greek writers.  Among the Greeks, the Magi had come to be seen as something like sorcerers or magicians by the time of Jesus’ birth, but these ones seem to have been skilled in astrology, hence why we tend to call them the “wise men.”  We also don’t know how many of them there were, but tradition often numbers them as three, and they may not have necessarily been Persian. One Armenian tradition holds that each of the Magi came from a different place, one from Persia, one from Arabia, and one from India.  If you’ve read Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, you might remember that the opening of the novel begins with the meeting of the Magi, but for Wallace, they’re an Arab, a Hindustani, and a Greek.  An 8th-Century Syriac text titled “The Revelation of the Magi,” which purports to have been written by them and may actually date to the second century (it is hard to say), says that there were twelve of them and that they came from a far-off land called Shir, which some scholars believe may actually be in modern-day China.  But in any respect, we don’t really know anything about them, apart from the fact that they show up in Jerusalem looking for the newborn King of the Jews and tip off Herod to a potential threat to his bloody regime.

“Die heiligen drei Könige,” Piotr Stachiewicz (1858-1938), in Die Kunst für alle: Malerei, Plastik, Graphik, Architektur 24 (1908-1909), Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg.

The gifts brought by the Magi also seem strange to us.  Who brings gold and incense to a baby? Probably better to bring Jesus and his family a smoked ham like the Herdman boys do in Barbara Robinson’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever— aside from their being observant Jews, at least the family can eat it.  But in antiquity, gold, frankincense, and myrrh were truly kingly gifts. Gold is obvious— it was the base for the ancient economy and of great value for both its monetary use as well as its ability to be fashioned into jewelry and costly items.  Frankincense, the hardened resin of the Boswellia tree, was burned as a high-quality incense and was sourced from the Arabian Peninsula and the horn of Africa.  It had to come a long way and at high cost to wherever the Magi were when they started. And myrrh, another tree resin from Arabia and East Africa, was used as a perfume, medicine, and incense.  It, too, had to be imported from afar. These resins would have been extremely valuable, perhaps more valuable than the gold that accompanied them. They were at least as valuable as the vial of perfumed ointment made from pure spikenard that Judas gripes about possibly selling for 300 denarii in John 12:3, which in modern dollars would roughly have been worth $1,100.  So these weren’t trinkets. These gifts were serious tribute.

And why did they give this baby these gifts?  The Magi were mistaken about who Jesus was. They thought that the King of the Jews was just like any other earthly ruler, and so they gave him the gifts that one would present to an earthly king.  God seems to have pointed these Gentile mystics toward his Son, but they didn’t have the whole picture regarding Jesus, and so they brought him costly gifts that any king would consider appropriate and “fell down and worshiped him.”  Actually, there, it’s more accurate to say that they prostrated themselves before him, just as they would have done before any number of Eastern kings, submitting themselves to him as to one who had dominion over them. It’s not unlike a dog behaving submissively before an alpha or its master— after all, that’s what the word used here to mean “worship,” proskuneo, originally meant to the Greeks: “to play the dog.”  To these Magi, Jesus was as powerful as the king of Persia, and they were his servants.  They did not see this infant as God-in-the-flesh; to them he is not the Messiah who will redeem the world, but rather one to whom they must show obeisance and give tribute to in this earthly realm.  Earthly kings demand tribute, and thinking Jesus the same, the Magi give it to him.

So the Magi seem to have believed that Jesus, as a king, required tribute or gifts, that they had to give him something.  Even though we know more than they did— Jesus isn’t just a king, he’s our God and Savior who died to take away our sins and redeem us so that we can live with him forever— we often find ourselves wanting to do something for Jesus or to give Jesus something.  Have you ever been told that you need to do something for Jesus? That in order for the church to grow or for your own life to be transformed by the work of Christ you need to do something big for him? Or, like the speaker in Rossetti’s poem, that you could give Jesus your heart in order to satisfy some urging or requirement or to do something for him?  Or even moreso, that in order to receive the benefits of Christ that you need to give him your heart? Or ask him into your heart?

You’ve probably heard it suggested that some people, in the act of converting, should recite the Sinner’s Prayer, in which someone, of his or her own volition, declares faith in Christ and, in Billy Graham’s version of the prayer, invites Christ to come into his or her heart and life.  The problem with this suggestion is that the theology behind it does not acknowledge the fact that our wills cannot choose to give Jesus anything, especially not our hearts or lives. By our being sinners, our wills are bound toward sin and we neither can nor wish to, of our own accord, look to Christ or trust in him.  Our hearts, full of sinful urges and desires and inclinations, are like the bits of trash and plastic you see along the road outside here along 123 and the parkway. In and of themselves, they’re not worth anything, and they’re not at all useful. They merit nothing good, and really ought to be in the scrap heap. Our sinful hearts are certainly not worthy gifts of any kind.

The sainted Bishop of Gothenburg, Sweden, Bo Giertz, writes about this in his novel, The Hammer of God, in which Fridfeldt, a young pastor who has come to believe that only a true believer gives his heart to Christ, is confronted with alternative ideas when speaking to an elderly curate:

“But don’t you know, sir, what it means to be a believer?” [said Fridfeldt.]
“That is a word which can stand for things that differ greatly, my boy. I ask only what it is that you believe in.”
“In Jesus, of course,” answered Fridfeldt, raising his voice. “I mean—I mean that I have given him my heart.”
The older man’s face became suddenly as solemn as the grave. “Do you consider that something to give him?”
By this time, Fridfeldt was almost in tears. “But sir, if you do not give your heart to Jesus, you cannot be saved.”
“You are right, my boy. And it is just as true that, if you think you are saved because you give Jesus your heart, you will not be saved.  You see, my boy,” he continued reassuringly, as he continued to look at the young pastor’s face, in which uncertainty and resentment were shown in a struggle for the upper hand, “it is one thing to choose Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior, to give him one’s heart and commit oneself to him, and that he now accepts one into his little flock; it is a very different thing to believe on him as a Redeemer of sinners, of whom one is chief. One does not choose a Redeemer for oneself, you understand, nor give one’s heart to him. The heart is a rusty old can on a junk heap. A fine birthday gift, indeed! But a wonderful Lord passes by, and has mercy on the wretched tin can, sticks his walking cane through it, and rescues it from the junk pile and takes it home with him. That is how it is.”

Giertz, Bo, Hammer of God, Augsburg Fortress: Kindle Edition: 146-147
Bishop Bo Giertz of Gothenburg, (Carl-Henrik Martling (red.): Till Bo Giertz 31 augusti 1965, Uppsala 1965.)

“A wonderful Lord passes by, and has mercy on the wretched tin can…and rescues it from the junk pile and takes it home with him.”  Our hearts are just like that rusty old can that really ought to be in a landfill, but Christ takes mercy on us and takes us for his own— without our asking.  And in doing this, he gives us a gift far surpassing any of the gifts that he received from the Magi, and certainly far better than anything we can give him. Christ freely gives us himself.  Himself! He comes among us, lives and preaches and heals, and dies for us so that we might be freed from the bondage of sin, death, and hell.  He does this so that we can live with him in perfect harmony without that  sin which divides us from him. He does this so that we can live as God created us to live, and he does it out of love, for us.  We do not deserve this act of love, but Jesus doesn’t care.  He overlooks our undeservingness. His gift of himself on the cross is for everyone, for Jews and Gentiles alike— yes, even those Magi who brought him gifts and mistook him for an earthly monarch.  Christ’s free gift of himself and the faith to trust that he has saved us by his work is for all of us. We cannot believe this for ourselves; we cannot believe it of our own effort or choose it. But our ability to trust that Jesus Christ is our Lord, and our ability to come to him, is a gift from Christ through his work and from the Holy Spirit whom he has given to us as our helper and comforter.  His gift of life and salvation doesn’t need or require anything from us. Instead, Christ gives to us freely and points us to use our gifts, not for him, but to help our neighbors. And that indeed is the greatest gift of all.

So this Epiphany, do not think that you too, like the Magi in Rossetti’s poem, should “do your part” and do something for Jesus.  You cannot. Instead, take comfort that any gift you might bring to him pales in comparison to the gift that he has given us in himself, that undeserved gift of life and salvation that comes in his blood.  And take comfort and joy in the fact that he gives that gift to you and everyone else. The Magi may even have received it, too. Remember that Syriac text called “The Revelation of the Magi” I mentioned earlier?  While it is likely fictional and contains many fantastical elements, the story ends with the Magi, back in their homeland, being baptized by the Apostle Thomas, bringing them fully into Christ’s promise of salvation.  How much greater it is to know that this potential gift to the Magi is truly and actually yours, today, and forevermore! Amen!

May the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

John Chrysostom’s Easter Homily

Because we cannot post this enough!

tissot-the-resurrection-480x736

The Resurrection of Christ from the Tomb (James Tissot)

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?

Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
“You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!