Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
Christos Voskrese! Voistinnu Voskrese!
As we celebrate the Easter Season, we bring Easter lilies and other flowers and plants into our churches. The pussy willows and palms from Palm Sunday are joined with explosions of colors and scents of flowers and Easter baskets which announce that the Lenten fast has come to a close and the celebration honoring our Risen Lord is upon us!
Our Easter traditions are supported by the natural cycle of the transition from the cold and darkness of winter to the warmth and new growth of springtime. Despite the severity of this winter and flu season, the return of
spring gives the hope of summer and the return of blossoms and flowers which we bring into our churches.
Today, we take plants and the food they provide for granted. Unlike the past when our grandparents and almost everyone grew their own food, we can go to the supermarket and purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, spices and flowers any time or season of the year. Our grandchildren may wonder how people could exist without online delivery of prepared dinners.
To understand Jesus’ words, we must return to a time when people were closer to nature. Jesus often used stories and parables about the growing of food from seeds, the harvesting of crops, and the preparation of food to
explain His Resurrection and the kingdom of heaven. For example, from the Gospel of Saint Matthew in the parables of the mustard seed and leaven for the bread: “He proposed another parable to them. The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.” In another parable, He said: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with the three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”
On Easter, we relive the moment that Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus is buried and is like a mustard seed. Both He and the seed arise from the earth. Also, like a tiny mustard seed, the news of His Resurrection began to spread and communities rapidly grew from small groups into large churches under the leadership of the apostles and disciples.
In a world of billions of Christians of many traditions, we always have been a little church. However, like the mustard seed, we can grow. And, even if we remain small, we are like a pinch of yeast in a loaf of bread. We share our traditions and spirit to influence and enrich all the Christian Churches. Our Easter icon is known and our Easter greetings can be heard in many traditions as well as in our own.
When some nameless Sumerians 5,000 years ago sprinkled tiny mustard seeds from a weed on their dinners, who would have thought it would become the most popular spice in the world. When you are at the ballpark or a picnic and you place mustard on your hot dog or hamburger, remember the tiny mustard seed. From little Byzantine churches across the world, our tiny faithful communities can grow to bring back the lost and attract those who are searching for a spiritual home. If we are faithful the world will hear, “Christ is Risen!” And, it will answer, “Indeed He is Risen!”
May your Easter be most blessed.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend William C. Skurla, D.D.
Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh