Dearly Beloved,

This night across our Metropolis our communities are overflowing. We have put on our best attire and gathered as a parish to celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection. Everyone is excited and in good spirits, anticipating the announcement of the Good News. We greet one another with joy. All of this reminds me of the verse from the great Doxastikon of Pascha, “Let us be glorious in splendor for the festival, and let us embrace one another.” I too, join you in this celebration and greet you in the name of our Resurrected Lord.

Most of you have gathered this night to hold a lit candle, to proclaim the Resurrection of Christ, and to sing the joyous hymns of our Church. A candle was placed in your hands at your baptism when you first proclaimed your faith in Christ the King and Lord of your life and you were united with Him. You became a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High God, who became one of us for our sakes. And, as Saint Paul writes to the Philippians , “Christ humbled himself and became obedient unto death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Philippians 2:8-11).

Tonight, as you hold the lit candle, you recommit yourself to that baptismal faith. In the Church you experience the Resurrected Christ. Tonight, as you sing the hymn “Christ is Risen!” you are proclaiming the single most important dimension of your Orthodox Christian faith. As Saint Paul writes, “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain,” (1 Corinthians 15:14). Our belief in the Resurrection is the centerpiece of the Gospel. The teachings of the Apostles of Christ begin with this event. The Resurrection is the ultimate victory of God over the power of sin, Satan, and death. This victory is not just of Christ Himself but also a victory for all those who are united with Him. As the Apostle Peter writes “By His great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” (1 Peter 1:3).

Our Paschal faith is more than an experience of lit candles and joyful singing for just one night, or the repetition of an ancient ritual of long ago. If all the candles were missing and all the rituals and customs of our heritage were put aside, we would still proclaim the Resurrection with great joy. The Apostles were filled with the experience of the Resurrection and spread this Good news throughout the world. They established a Church where the experience of the Resurrection was translated into actions of service and ministry. We are today’s apostles. We have accepted the call to continue their mission in our time. The Doxastikon of Pascha commands us to speak and engage those “who hate us” and to “forgive all things.” These are the actions of reconciliation, of restoring relationships and of recognizing our solidarity and equality with all. Our faith in the Resurrection should compel us to share our faith with others and to work for unity and harmony among all people. Our baptismal Faith on this most glorious Feast of Feasts calls us to become servants of all and spread the Good News of God’s power over death and all adversaries that would keep us from His love and Goodness.

May the unwaning light of His Resurrection be your guide now and forever.

Truly He is Risen!

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