My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
"Φώς Χριστού φαίνει πάσι" (The Light of Christ illumines all!")
Among the very solemn divine services during Holy and Great Lent is the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. During the service at a specific moment the officiating Priest, holding aloft the censer and a lighted candle, stands before the Holy Table and says: Wisdom! Let us attend! Then turning to the people, standing in the Royal Arch he proclaims: The Light of Christ illumines all! He blesses the congregation making the sign of the Cross with the candle and returns before the Holy Table.
Our Holy Orthodox Christian Tradition constantly reminds the faithful that our Lord, God, and Savior is indeed the True and Eternal Light. He Himself said, "I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE" (John 8:12). Jesus is the One Who gives "THE LIGHT OF LIFE." In the New Testament God is light". As the Divine Logos/Word incarnate, Christ is also the Source of Life and illumination. Because the Logos/Word forever remains God, the Creator. By seeing and participating in Christ’s life believers BECOME LIGHT AND CHILDREN OF LIGHT (12:36). In the Divine Liturgy as Pascha, light breaks forth from the night at the proclamation of the Resurrection. We hear the officiating Priest exhort the faithful by proclaiming: "Come, take the light from the Light that is never overtaken by night. Come glorify Christ, risen from the dead." On the other hand, "darkness" represents Satanic wickedness which aggressively opposes the light. Though the world has embraced darkness according to our Savior who said, "And this is the CONDEMNATION, THAT THE LIGHT HAS COME INTO THE WORLD, AND MEN LOVED DARKNESS RATHER THAN LIGHT BECAUSE THEIR DEEDS WERE EVIL" (John 3:19). A profound insight. Goodness and a pure heart welcome the Light, whereas evil deeds and hatred resist the Ligjht and seek to hide in the "darkness." The "True Light" Jesus Christ, illumines every person, but the world rejects the Light and refuses to receive and LIVE IN THE LIGHT, and DOES NOT "KNOW HIM". Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church chants, in the hymn after Holy Communion, have been received by the faithful, "WE HAVE SEEN THE TRUE LIGHT…WORSHIPING THE UNDIVIDED TRINITY."
Again when we recite the Creed or Confession of Faith we declare: "I believe…in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all Ages. Light of Light, True God of True God, begotten not made, One in essence with the Father, through Whom all things were made…". No wonder our Holy Church through divine services reminds us that "The Light of Christ, illumines all!" She encourages us to walk in the Light of Christ and to live holy lives as the countless Saints, the righteous men, women, and children of our Church practiced. The Light of Christ IS SALVATION!
Christ lights the ecumene. There is no place in which our Lord’s Light does not shine in the world that He created. Darkness does not sustain life but brings death. If one would pay attention to nature he would see that all plants, trees, animals, birds, sea creatures, and mammals always seek the light. It is because of the rays of the sun that we are all energized and are able to continue enjoying this earthly life but it is the Light of Christ that gives us the Light of Life. Our Lord and Son of God Jesus Christ says, "You are the light of the world…Let YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE BEFORE MEN, THAT THEY MAY SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS AND GLORIFY YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN" (Matthew 5:14-16). The followers of Christ and His disciples shine as lights in a perverse world (Philippians 2:15), stimulating others to look to God and His Righteousness. Thus In the Paschal Liturgy, a candle is brought forth by the Priest chanting and inviting the faithful to "COME to RECEIVE THE LIGHT WHICH IS NEVER OVERTAKEN BY NIGHT."
Light is the symbol of God Who is True and UNCREATED Light. In the Old Testament, light is symbolic of God (Isaiah 60:1-3). We believe that Light is necessary not only for clear vision but for life. Therefore, the life of faith relies on Divine Light (Romans 13:12; Ephesians 1:18). Light is holiness and Righteousness which centers on our relationship with God. Holy Lent becomes for us, Orthodox Christians, a time of deep reflection and a time to discover the Light of Christ within our hearts. The light within us is stronger only when we are williing to cooperate with Him. Christ says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me" (Revelation 3:20). Jesus keeps knocking, awaiting our response. It is up to the individual believer to open the door to his or her heart and invite Him in. He stands at the door and awaits patiently but does not force Himself into the house.
Apostasy is darkness descending on the world. We are witnesses of not only the threat of the dark powers in the world but the actual battle taking place between good and evil. We, as Christians, believe that our Savior Jesus Christ destroyed the power of the devil. Christian persecution will continue but "if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him NOT be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter" (1 Peter 4:16). God’s people have always suffered unjustly. Christians who suffer can always be confident that God is FAITHFUL AND GOOD. Christians know how very important it is to remain vigilant and ready to face persecution. Jesus warns us, "And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will be lost" (Luke 21:17-18). This is an ancient expression meaning that not even death can harm a soul that is in God’s hands.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God