Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Time in the Church

In the Orthodox Church time alters itself, entering the eternal present. Past and future do not exist; the prevalence of the present is what the faithful lives, upon entering the Church. That is evident especially through the hymnographic tradition of the Orthodox Church, whereby we sing Today He is born and Today he is on the Cross. The eternal present allows each faithful to be present at the events of Christ’s earthly life. At Christmas we are present at His birth; during Holy Week we are all there, where He died, where He is on the Cross, at His resurrection etc. Germanos of Constantinople, during the 8th century AD, gives a beautiful description of the present, evident in the life of the Church.

‘For today truly the spiritual powers of heaven have bent down from heaven and celebrate invisibly along with you, who are born on earth!
Today the prophecy of David has been fulfilled which says, “Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth exult!” (Psalm 95[96]:11). For behold, now both have been filled with joy!
Today the crowded assembly of holy feast-lovers is clad in white garments!
Today, as if out of a chilly winter, a warm spring has shone upon us, and the gold-beaming sun, even more delightful and gracious, has arisen for us!
Today the divinely planted Eden is opened, and the divinely molded Adam, who is again enrolled in it by the goodness of God’s benevolence, dwells there!
Today the ancestral sentence of pain has been released, and the invidious humiliation of our ancestress Eve has ceased, along with her wearisome penalty!
Today the ranks of angels above dance with those on earth by means of this present office that is bounded by four walls, and the whole universe is illumined by a shining light!
Today the spotless Church of Christ is magnified in a way that befits its unified form, and is made splendid as if in golden tassels. (cf. Ps 44[45]:14) by the beauty of the present, much desired day!...’[1] 

[1] Homily on the Annunciation, ed. D. Fecioru, ‘Un nou gen de predica in omiletica ortodoxa,’ Biserica Ortodoxa Romana 64 (1946), 65; trans. Cunningham, Wider Than Heaven, 221-22.

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