The Easter Sermon
This morning, all around the world, people will read the words of this sermon. It was written hundreds of years ago by St. John Chrysostom.
They will not sit when they read it, they will stand.
A dear friend shared it with me. This year it will become part of our Easter morning celebration.
If anyone is devout and a lover of God, Let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival. If anyone is a grateful servant, Let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord. If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting, Let them now receive recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, Let them today receive the just reward.
If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving Let them feast.
If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, Let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss.
If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, Let them draw near without hesitation.
If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, Let them not fear on account of tardiness.
For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first;
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, Just as to him who has labored from the first.
He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; To the one He gives, and to the other He is gracious.
He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, And, whether first or last, receive your reward.
O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today!
The table is rich-laden: feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted: let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness. Let no one lament their poverty,
For the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn their transgressions, For pardon has dawned from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Saviour's death has set us free.
He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into Hell and took Hell captive! He embittered it when it tasted His flesh!
And anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed: "Hell was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions".
It was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and came upon God!
It took earth and encountered Ηeaven!
It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!
O death, where is thy sting? O Hell, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown! Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen! Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life reigns! Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
For Christ, being raised from the dead, Has become the first-fruits of them that have slept.
To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages.