The five most important Easter sermons
Every year, thousands of churches of the world give thousands of sermons: talented and inept, memorized and improvised, abstruse and simple. But there are Easter words and conversations – exemplary for any priest and layman, they were once uttered by the Byzantine fathers of the Church. We selected five of them.
Meliton of Sardia. Word about Easter
Saint Meliton of Sardis
This is perhaps the oldest of the Easter sermons that have come down to us. Indeed, there are traces of the polemic with the Old Church, with Judaism and the Judeo-Christians, which Meliton is trying to explain: the whole history of their people is a prehistory of salvation, and it is valuable only in that capacity. In this polemic, the saint unexpectedly gives out the formula of Christian historiosophy:
“Everything has its own time: the image has its own time, and reality has its own time. You are creating the image of truth. You wish for this, because in it you see an icon of the future. You bring reality instead of image. You wish for this, because in it the future confronts you. You are doing the job and want only this, you love only this, seeing only in it the image, the reality, and the truth. ”
The heart of a Christian lives in the future, the present for him is a stepping stone to this future, and the past is a useful tool. “The Word about Easter”, however, is not a speculative treatise, it is a very emotional, dramatic, sometimes on the verge of action, story about how humanity went to Easter joy.
Gregory the Theologian. Word 45. For Holy Easter
St. Gregory the Theologian
Instead of reading boring (I have never met) textbooks on dogma, open this sermon by the Bishop of Nazianzus. It has everything: a vivid description of the unknowability of God, and an explanation of the Trinity mystery, and the doctrine of the creation of the world and man, and a discussion about who exactly (Satan? God the Father?) Was offered the sacrifice of Christ. In the “Word for Easter” the whole amount of Orthodox theology:
“We received being in order to prosper, and we prosper after we received being. Paradise was entrusted to us, in order to enjoy, we were given a commandment, so that, having preserved it, to earn glory, it was given not because God did not know the future, but because He established the law of freedom. We are deceived because we aroused envy, we fell because we broke the law; They fasted because they did not fast, being defeated by the tree of knowledge, for the ancient and modern was this commandment, which served as a pestle for the soul and curbing pleasure, and we are justly subordinate to it in order to regain what we lost by non-observance. We have a need for God incarnate and put to death in order for us to come to life. With him we died to be cleansed, with him they were resurrected, because they died with him; they became glorified with him, because they were resurrected with him. "
We do not always understand what is for the Ancient Church and for the Church in general some (of course, not all) patristic texts. The writings of Gregory the Theologian in Byzantium were valued almost as much as the texts of the Holy Scriptures: they were read, copied endlessly, translated (including very early into Slavic) and commented. The latter is a sure sign of the "sacredness" of the text. If we want to get closer to the Easter secret, this sermon is a good help.
Gregory of Nyssa. Word for Holy Easter, about the resurrection
St. Gregory of Nyssa
The sermon of Gregory of Nyssa, the youngest friend of the previous speaker, is an encyclopedia of Easter apologetics. It contains all the arguments in favor of the fact that resurrection is inevitable and that it directly follows from the concept of God as a good Creator. It is clear that such an argument is completely useless for an unbeliever at all, but for a believing spiritualist who accepts only the posthumous life of the soul, there are a lot of such people now – that’s the very thing. You can weed out the arguments of a natural scientific nature. For example, it is not necessary to adopt the words of Gregory of Nyssa that since snakes seem to die for six months, and then, as it were, rise, then why not a person be resurrected. But the theological and moral points in favor of the resurrection are very strong:
“If there is no resurrection, and death is the final limit of our life; then destroy all accusation and censure, give the murderer unhindered freedom, let the adulterer openly rebel against marriage. Let the robber calmly indulge in luxury and triumph over his opponents; let no one bridle the slanderer, let the oath-breaker constantly resort to the oath, because death awaits the one who holy keeps the oath. Let everyone deceive as much as he wants, because the truth does not bear any fruit. Let no one show mercy to the poor, because mercy is left without retribution. Such reasoning produces more confusion and confusion than a flood; they destroy all sound thoughts, on the contrary, support and nourish the thoughts violent and insane. In fact, if there is no resurrection, then there will be no judgment; if you destroy judgment, cast out the fear of God. And where the fear of God does not rule people, the devil triumphs and rejoices with sin. ”
If there is no resurrection, then there is no God, and if there is no God, then "what kind of captain am I after that?"
Roman Sweet singer. Kondak 44. For Easter
Rev. Roman Sweet singer
The creator of the kondak genre, the most famous Orthodox hymnographer Roman Sladkopevets, was Jewish by birth. The classic of the canon, the poetic genre that replaced Kondaku, John of Damascus, was a Greek-speaking Arab. The clash of these two genres at the end of the 7th – the beginning of the 8th century is the most beautiful Arab-Israeli conflict in history, an intra-Semitic showdown, the results of which we hear during the festive services.
If the Hellenic tradition prevails in speculative theology, then the biblical tradition lives in worship. Scientists believe that the genre of kondak Roman Sladkopevets borrowed from modern Syrian poetry, "translating" it into Greek. Kondak is a poetic sermon filled with sublime sensuality, emotional in its own way, trying to offend the listener, attract to the theological plot:
“Feeling pain, hell cried out loudly:“ My stomach hurts, I’m not digesting the One I swallowed. What I ate was unusual food. Of those that I ate earlier, not a single one bothered me. Apparently, this is the One about whom Adam told me in advance: “He will punish you when he comes, by means of resurrection.”
Kondak lost its central significance after compulsory preaching at the liturgy was introduced in Byzantium. It is a pity that this poetic tradition is a thing of the past. I wish we could hear a modern poetic comprehension of the biblical plot during the service. Silent, silent.
John Chrysostom. Easter word for Easter
Saint John Chrysostom
We know very little about the origin of this central text for the Easter service. Its history can be traced back to the 9th century (the first handwritten evidence) and, perhaps, to the 6th-7th centuries (these are already hypotheses). It seems that the phrase “took the body and found God in it” is a reference to the Christological debate of this time. In any case, now the scientific consensus is: “The announcement word” does not belong to the saint. It is all the more surprising that the nameless author, at some peak of gracious inspiration, was able to create a text accepted by the whole church as a standard for the Easter sermon. However, aren't the authors of almost all the Old Testament and many New Testament texts the same: their works are on the lips of the universe, but only God knows the passport data. What reward awaits them there, in New Jerusalem, when the whole world will be one big Easter feast, at which John Chrysostom will finally be able to get acquainted with all the ascetics of the word, whose works the tradition attributed to him? I think they will not share royalties.
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