If you have attended Pascha services, or served them, it is quite possible to suffer some of the “natural consequences,” which for me means that after a somewhat disordered sleep I am sitting, having coffee and writing at 3:30 in the morning, wide-awake. I have no complaints. I generally like to be up by around 5 or so, so I am only off by a couple of hours…. There is also the Bright Monday Liturgy to be served this morning as well.
It underlines in the language of sleep, that things are all relative to Pascha. Rightly observed, we do not adjust the Pascha to fit the world, but rather the World to fit Pascha. Even if the time of services may be adjusted somewhat in some places, it remains the case that we must be “adjusted” to fit Pascha.
The simple reason is that everything that exists does so only in relation to this event. This is Creation. This is salvation. This is purification and deification. Everything we want and everything we are must find its basis in Pascha or it will find no basis at all (utimately).
We are told in Scripture that the “Lamb was slain from the foundation of the earth” (Rev. 13:8). What takes place at Pascha is more than a resurrection that holds out promise to the human race for everlasting life. When viewed in such a manner, humanity becomes the center and the meaning of Pascha. Rather we are told that creation itself is groaning for this very thing. The description of Good Friday to Pascha in Scripture (which is one long event), is replete with creation’s reaction. The sun is darkened – an earthquake shakes Jerusalem (there is to this day a long split in the rock beneath Golgotha, said to date to that earthquake). What occurred was more than the moral tidiness of God, but an event that is both the foundation and the meaning of all creation.
Pascha, in its eternal consideration, is simply older than all creation (Rev. 13:8). It underlines the fact that “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten son…” The Son was given before ever Adam and Eve drew their first breath.
Thus when we encounter Pascha in our own day and age, it is not simply a piece of ancient Church ceremony. We stand as witnesses to the foundation of the earth. Time does not exist for us in Pascha, or rather, time begins in Pascha.
I stood in the altar Saturday night, and looked over to a clock in the Sanctuary. We were running “late.” We had already passed the published time for the beginning of the service – but people continued to arrive. My deacon looked over to me, smiled, and said, “Pascha is never late.”
For some days to come, I am sure that my internal clock will operate on “Pascha time.” I only hope and pray that the rest of me will remain forever set to that event – that might life become a Pascha for everyone around me. St. Seraphim of Sarov, regardless of the time of year, greated everyone with, “Christ is risen!” For those who met him – they met Pascha in the form of humbled, bent-over Russian staretz. May Pascha greet you in a hundred ways today and may others who meet you encounter Pascha as well.
Christ is risen!