Sunday is not only a day with a specific name, but a special day, a day which reminds us that we must achieve our own resurrection. Christ did not arise from the dead for His own sake, but for the sake of all of us. We, too, must arise from the dead.
It is our Lord Jesus Christ, of course, Who resurrects us, but we ourselves should not remain unconcerned. Without us, without our inclination, without our will the Lord will not resurrect us. We, who have been created in His image and likeness, who have been endowed with free will, must consciously or, in other words, creatively participate in our own resurrection from the dead. In order to participate creatively, we must become aware of our creativity. Man differs from God in that God creates out of nothing, while man can only create out of those materials which are given to him by God. God’s image and likeness in man are revealed in this creativity. To be like God does not mean to be like Him in external appearance, because we are unable to see the external image, but to develop spiritual qualities within oneself. The Lord says to us: “Be ye perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” And there is a church saying: God became man, in order for man to become God. Materialists and atheists distort this concept and say that man himself is God, and that there is no other God. Man can certainly be godly, but only when one accepts the existence of God the Creator.
Such is the height to which God elevates man!
However, let us descend from such giddy heights and look at ourselves, at what we really are. For the time being we are sinners, frail men, mortal, prey to worms…
But this should not be so, we must be resurrected!
Do all your work in the course of six days, and give the seventh day (Sunday in the New Testament) to your Lord God.
Usually this day to your Lord God we spend on amusements, drinking, carousing, etc. However, we should not spend this day on amusements, but on a supreme creative endeavor – resurrection from the dead. Actually, all the days in which we have worked – they, too, become part of this Sunday endeavor, for if we toil honestly, we pave the way for our resurrection. The Sunday must differ in that the other days were given over to material concerns, while this day must be given over to spiritual concerns. For example, since we are now standing in church, we must concern ourselves with sanctifying our weekly toil with prayer.
Let us examine the means which the Church offers us today for our resurrection.
The first is to participate in the Sunday service. We must participate consciously and creatively. What does this mean? Consciously means that our prayer must enliven us, must arouse our souls. Therefore, we must pray attentively, with piety, listening carefully to each word of the service. Let us now examine ourselves as to how we have prayed. Have we listened to the service attentively, or have we listened only to the singing, looking around to all sides, thinking of other things? This is how it probably was. We were present here with our bodies, while our minds were elsewhere. This is what we must note for today. Prayer is our resurrection from the dead. If you have been inattentive at prayer today, you have not resurrected your soul. But it must be resurrected. O, how hard we must work on our soul, in order to resurrect it from the dead! We will consider this day lost, but let us at least promise ourselves: next time, if the Lord allows us to come to the service, we will concentrate, we will pray properly. It helps to pray properly if we understand the service.
Many of us do not understand the service. In subsequent discourses we will try to explain the service, but for the time being let us note that we must try to be attentive to the service and not allow our thoughts to wander. Everyone understands that we must pray not only for the physical health of ourselves and others, but also for spiritual health, for we are all sick. We ourselves are spiritually ill and those around us are ill. This is the reason for so many vices among us. Therefore, when the words “Lord, have mercy” are sung, – let us pray with these words for God to deliver us from all our vices. Prayer is also fruitful when we come here in a proper frame of mind. And what frame of mind is that? When we come prepared not for amusement, but for prayer to God. Prayer is the breath of life, – said St. John Chrysostome.
We must also come here with the awareness that our family should be a home church. If our family will constitute a home church, then we will truly be coming here as to a church, too. Church at home and church at church – such is the normal situation for a Christian…
Many, of course, would say that I am an idealist, a dreamer. How can one speak of a home church nowadays, when having even one believer in the family is good enough already, most others being non-believers, drunkards, hooligans…
And yet, we must have a home church!
Thus, let all of us who are present here make sure, when we come to church next time, to pray that each family be a home church. If there is even one true believer in the family, then sooner or later others will also become believers.
And again many would say: but believers are mocked nowadays, are considered to be stupid. But those who are afraid of mockery are not true believers, because a true believer should know the words of the apostle: I can do everything with the aid of the Lord Who strengthens me. One must only begin doing.
And what are you doing?
Are you praying for enlightenment? That is good, but not enough. A prayer means a lot, but how are you yourself acting? If you pray, but at the same time you curse, use foul language, envy others, – you corrupt your family instead of rectifying it. A Christian must treat others with love and kindness. Children should be brought up in a Christian spirit, and children especially will understand your Christian attitude.
Thus, the means of our resurrection for today is prayer. But there are also daily readings from the Gospel. This is also a significant resource.
What Gospel reading did the Church just offer us? In the Gospel reading during yesterday’s all-night vigil we heard of how Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection, and when she told those who were crying and weeping that she had seen the resurrected Christ, – she was not believed. It would seem that those who were crying and weeping would find comfort only in Christ’s resurrection, and yet they did not believe it.
The weeping and the crying are actually all of us. We all live in expectation of death, plus we suffer so many sorrows that it would seem we should only believe that our best comfort here is Christ’s resurrection, – and yet we do not believe. But all those who weep and cry should find comfort in a belief in Christ’s resurrection – it is the only comfort and the sole meaning of life.
And after all of that Christ said: “Whosoever shall believe and will be baptized – shall be saved, while whosoever shall not believe – will be condemned!”
Such is the final decision.
Disbelief is a death sentence. Faith is a person’s justification, his liberation from the fear of death. Faith is our guiding light, while disbelief is darkness, and we cannot be guided by darkness, otherwise everything around us will be darkness, our entire life will be darkness. This is what we see around us nowadays. Often we are shaky in our faith, because we are overcome by various concerns. But believers must place their faith in God. He concerns Himself about birds, about plants, about everything, and He will be concerned about us, too. But only, it should be noted, if we seek the Kingdom of God and its truth. If we cease being concerned with earthly things and yet do not seek the Heavenly Realm, that would also lead us nowhere. However, when a person seeks the Kingdom of God and its truth, God will not abandon such a person in his earthly needs.
Such is the Gospel resource for our resurrection from the dead.
Let us make use of these resources, let us ensure that our souls arise from the dead, that we and all those around us seek the Kingdom of God and its truth, for such a search and such a care for arising from the dead will result in eternal joy. Amen.