(Saturday, June 22)

With the saints give rest (Μετὰ τῶν ἁγίων ἀνάπαυσον / Со святыми упокой), O Christ, to the souls of Your servants, / where there is neither sickness nor sorrow, and no more sighing, / but life everlasting.” (Kontakion-hymn, Saturday Before Pentecost)

Today I’m thinking about death, because it happens to be the Saturday before Pentecost, when we in my church commemorate the dead. Also, someone very close to me is dying. I think of our grief, when we encounter death, as a form of protest against death, because we don’t accept it. And we shouldn’t. God didn’t accept it either, which is why He sent us His only-begotten Son to come and share it with us, to grieve about it with us (when “Jesus wept” with the family of Lazarus), and then to trample it for us, by overcoming it in the “life everlasting“ of His resurrection.

Our cross-carrying journey is a life-long process of learning to “protest” death in a Christ-like manner; in a life-affirming manner. It’s a process of learning to reject death in its many forms, both physical and spiritual, and learning to embrace the New Life God has in store for us, which is to be both physical and spiritual, in the bodily resurrection. This learning-process is a gradual and oft-painful one, for example, when we experience the death of a loved one, and yet continue to love them and pray for them, and to love and care for ourselves and others in our vicinity, in a life-affirming way. When we commemorate our dead, we “exercise,” so to say, our rejection of death in a faith-inspired way, as we “look for,” and pray for, the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come, as we profess at the end of the Creed.

Let me reject death today, embracing faith in my death-trampling Lord, as I pray to Him to give “rest” to my deceased loved ones. And “let us love one another” (Ἀγαπήσωμεν ἀλλήλους / Возлюбим друг друга), those of us still here, because that’s the best way to protest death in its ugly face. “I shall not die, but live, and proclaim the works of the Lord!”