of Sourozh Foundation
of Sourozh Foundation
Sunday 6 June 1994
In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. In one of his sermons dedicated to the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ Father Serguei Boulgakov said that this parting with the Lord was a parting of joy. And what he meant, was to remind us of the words of Christ: It is better for you if I go, because unless I go, the Holy Spirit will not come for you…
We are now on the threshold of two feasts: on Wednesday we are keeping the Feast of Leave-day, or leave-taking from Easter, and the next day we keep the Ascension of the Lord. In both cases, in a way, it is a leave-taking. Easter has filled us with joy, but not only with joy: with a new life, if we only truly believe what we proclaim: that Christ is risen from the dead, that He had trampled death by death, and that all those in the tomb, and all those who will descend into it given life.
This Feast has filled us with joy and with newness of life; but we cannot sustain the intensity of this joy, and we surrender this intensity into the keeping of God: Take it, Lord, and keep it for us so that year after year, when it comes again and again, we should be filled with a new measure, a new plenitude, a new intensity of the Light of the Resurrection.
But we are not left alone; we are not left without this God and without this experience. We are not left only with a stale despair memory that it was, and is no longer. No, the Resurrection has entered into our lives, pervaded us in soul and body, made us into new creatures. And also, the Resurrection is not only remembered, but kept as the greatest feast of the year every Sunday, in Russian called “Voskresenie” which means Resurrection. But whatever we call it, that day is the day when we remember that Christ is risen. And together with Him we are risen.
And when we will face the event of the Ascension we must remember that the Lord, after His struggle, after giving His life for us, has now, free from pain, free from the tragedy of the world in the way in which we are (?) in His Incarnation, has ascended, and is sitting on the right hand of the Father. And yet, the tragedy is not ended; as long as there is o n e sinner in the world, Christ bears the marks of the Crucifixion; He is the Lamb of God slain before all ages, until the end of time.
But the Ascension reveals to us something more; Saint John Chrysostom says in one of His sermons that if we want to know the greatness of Man, let us remember that G o d became man; and if we want to see man in his full glory, let us not look towards the thrones of kings and the palaces of princes; let us lift up our eyes towards the Throne of God, and we will see sitting on the right hand of the Father A MAN, the Man Jesus Christ who at the saw time is the Son of God. This is the final vision of what a man is.
But if this be true, it enfolds us into a heroic struggle to be worthy of Incarnation in which God became man to d i e , of the Resurrection in which He conquered death for us, and of the Ascension in which He has revealed to us what our greatness is; and that short of being that kind of man or woman, that kind of human being, we are n o t what we are called to be, we are n o t the kind of human being that Christ wanted to create by His life, His death, His Resurrection, His Ascension, and ultimately – by the gift of the Holy Spirit Whom we expect ten days later, according to the Scriptures: a time when all will be fulfilled and the Spirit of God will come, and dwell in the midst of us, i n us, in all those who will have been saved by the life, the death and the resurrection of Christ.
Let as therefore rejoice in this parting because it calls us to a new meeting, but a meeting without a shadow, a meeting when God shall be all in all, and we shall be in God. Amen.