Dearly Beloved,

“We have seen Christ’s Resurrection.”

These words reveal a magnificent statement of our Orthodox faith. While they are recited at every Sunday Orthros service in our churches, in the Orthros of Pascha, this proclamation carries a message that should touch us even more profoundly. Midway through Orthros we will proclaim these words with a freshly lit Paschal candle in our hands and after singing the triumphant “Christ Is Risen” many times. We will have already heard the Good News, the essential message of Christianity, that Jesus of Nazareth has risen from the dead. Our response to the message is indeed, “We have seen Christ’s Resurrection”.

The signs of the Resurrection - the hymns, the bright vestments, the candles, and the flowers - surround us in our Churches and proclaim the news. We will also fill our homes with signs of the Resurrection - bright new clothing, red eggs, and of course, an end to the weeks of fasting with a roasted lamb - the paschal Lamb - as the centerpiece of a magnificent feast. Families and friends will gather to celebrate, whether in homes or at community picnics. The spirit of joy cannot be contained because “We have seen Christ’s Resurrection.”

The message of the Resurrection must be spread, as the Angel at the empty tomb instructed the myrrh-bearing women, “Go, tell the disciples”. The Resurrection is a universal message. It is not to be shared only among Orthodox Christians, nor even just among Christians, but throughout the world. The lifesaving message that Christ has destroyed the power of death must be shared because His Resurrection has transformed all creation - everything and everyone. Just as we joyfully spread the light of our candles from person to person so, too, we must spread the Good News of the Resurrection to all corners of the world.

Likewise, just as we will valiantly try to keep our Paschal candles lit that we may bless our homes and light our vigil lamps with it, we must carry the joy of the Resurrection into all dimensions of our lives. While we may proclaim loudly that “We have seen Christ’s Resurrection”, will others look at us and proclaim that they see the Resurrection in us? In other words, my beloved brothers and sisters, the message of the Resurrection must become more than words, more than a hymn, more that a brightly decorated church, and even much more than a roast lamb. The message of the Resurrection must lead to resurrected lives, that is, lives that have been transformed.

The Resurrection brought a new reality to the world and it is the Church’s mission to manifest that new reality. The life of the Church, the evidence of the new reality, is the care and concern we show to one another. As the great doxastikon of Pascha proclaims, “Let us embrace one another…let us speak to those who hate us…and let us forgive one another.” And since the message is universal, we must extend our care and concern to all because in the Resurrection all have become our brothers and sisters. We cannot limit our embrace to those we already like or those who like us. We must engage all in dialogue, not just those who already agree with us. We must forgive everyone because “We have seen Christ’s Resurrection”.

Beloved children in the Lord, when you hear this powerful statement of our Faith in the Orthros, recite them with the reader, but as you do, inscribe them in your heart. When you return to your home, share the message of the Resurrection with your loved ones and your neighbors. Celebrate the Feast of Feasts with all the traditions of our people. Live the Resurrection!

With Love in the Risen Lord,
+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco