Belated Paschal Greetings

Since it’s Easter week in the Orthodox world, I should better follow up on my promised Paschal devotionals before it’s too late… again!

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“Today is hung upon the cross, He who suspended the earth amid the waters.
A crown of thorns crowns Him, Who is the king of Angels.
He, Who wrapped the Heavens in clouds, is clothed with the purple of mockery.
He, Who freed Adam in the Jordan received buffetings.
He was transfixed with nails, Who is the bridegroom of the Church.
He was pierced with a lance, Who is the Son of the Virgin.”

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“You, the Life, how can You die?
How can You reside in a grave?
You abolish the realm of death
and resurrect Hades’ dead.”

I wrote this lament for Good Friday, inspired by the traditional Greek Orthodox hymns Today He Is Hung (Σήμερον κρεμάται) and The Life in the Grave ( Ἡ ζωή ἐν τάφω). Death is portrayed here to resemble Mot, the Canaanite deity of death.

Today, he is hung!
The son of Iao is slain!

He is snatched
by the gaping jaws of *Death,
stolen from his mother’s embrace.
Weep, O women,
for the son of Iao is slain!

He is dragged
into Haides,
his beauty and youth
taken away from the earth.
Weep, O earth,
for the son of Iao is slain!

His blood is spilt
from his wounds,
a river over the now parched earth.
Weep, O women, for the son of Iao is slain!

His body is broken
from the beating of Death,
like wheat ground into flour,
like grapes into wine.
Weep, O earth, for the son of Iao is slain!

All heaven and earth weep,
as women sing their lamentations,
for the son of Iao is slain!

We beat our breasts,
and shroud our altars,
for the son of Iao is slain!

How can I bury you, Lord?
Thou who art life?
How can the grave contain your beauty,
your youth?

And then, there’s this triumphant hymn below, which I wrote for Easter Sunday, inspired by the traditional Greek Orthodox hymn — take a guess — Khristos Anesti (Χριστός ἀνέστη).

Is the Lord risen?
Has he truly risen?
Yes, he is risen!
Christ is risen from the dead!

Risen from the grave,
returning from Haides,
conquering death,
emptying sepulchres,
and giving life.
Christ is risen from the dead!

Lo! the son of Iao lives.
Bread to those who hunger,
and wine for those who thirst,
Christ is risen from the dead!

So, there. Happy Pascha! to our Christian friends from East and West (well, belated Pascha, that is). May the spirit of radical love and compassion live on and triumph over the hatred and bigotry that have plagued the churches for so long.

PS: Pictures above are our devotional photo op, not actual rites held. Semana Santa or Holy Week cultus can be quite festive here.

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