Those of us in the Eastern Orthodox Church begin the Great Fast tomorrow. We started today with a service called Forgiveness Vesper. You see, this great fast, Great Lent, is all about repentance and change. Changing me.
We recognize we are sinners, we pray and fast and work towards communion with God. Lent is about working just a little bit harder at that.
I want to share three of the hymns we sung today. These three hymns say it all. The purpose, the aim, what our journey is to accomplish. “To humble the flesh by abstinence…”
“Cleanse me in the water of repentance, and through prayer and fasting make me shine with light…”
Lord have mercy and make me shine with light!
“Let us set out with JOY upon the season of the fast, and prepare for spiritual combat!”
Our growth and change is truly only fruitful through spiritual combat! And “rejoicing in the virtues of the Spirit may we persevere with love, and so be counted worthy to see the solemn Passion of Christ our God…”
With Love! And joy. You see, today in his homily Fr. John reminded us by reading one of the hymns we sang last night, that this journey, our end goal is all about joy. This is what he read,
O Paradise, garden of delight and beauty, dwelling-place made perfect by God, unending gladness and eternal joy, the hope of the prophets and the home of the saints, by the music of thy rustling leaves beseech the Creator of all to open the gates which my sins have closed, that I may partake of the Tree of Life and Grace which was given to me in the beginning!
Our goal is what we lost in the beginning…the Tree of Life and Grace. Communion with God.
May your fast be fruitful. May we find “unending gladness and eternal joy.”
It is all about joy!
Please forgive me, brothers and sisters, for any offense. God forgives all!