WEDNESDAY, THE FOURTH DAY
(Wednesday, November 29)
“Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth’; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.” (Gen 1:14-19)
Wednesday, called The Fourth Day in Hebrew and in Greek (*Yom revi’i*, *Tetarti*), is in the very center of the seven-day week, with three days before it and three days after it. In our church-tradition, on Wednesdays we celebrate the *central* mysteries of Christianity, the Cross and the Theotokos (as one who stands next to the Cross). We also celebrate the Fourth Day of creation, when God gives form to *time*, by putting into motion, into ordered and predictable motion, the heavenly bodies. He also orders *light* via these heavenly bodies, “for signs and seasons,” that is, so that we could read these *signs* or make sense of things here on earth, with the help of light and its predictable, reliable rhythms.
We take pause in the middle of our week, to fast on Wednesdays, so that we are extra-focused on these mysteries, connected to the Incarnation; to the ways in which God both forms time and steps into it, reminding us that “it is good.” Time is good, and not to be dreaded or wasted. Our way forward through time is via the light and lightness of the Cross, which we dare to take up as we walk through our responsibilities (rather than avoiding them), because God’s only-begotten Son did so, even as His Mother stood by and grieved in silence, because she was only human. Here was a “sign” she did not understand at the time, when “from the sixth to the ninth hour darkness came over the whole land” (Matt. 27:45), but she was soon to gain understanding in the light of the Resurrection.
Thus we also, as members of the Mother-Church, stand in grief-stricken silence when we go through dark times and don’t know what the future holds. But let us take heart, because of One in our midst, Who is ever-coming into our time. He is revealing His light to us, or I should say His *lights* to us, particularly in dark times, just as the stars become more visible on the darkest of nights. “Do not lament Me, O Mother,” He says to all of us from the Cross in the words of a well-known Byzantine hymn, “for I will arise and be glorified…” Let us stand aright, and let us pay attention, to two signs: 1. “the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Mt 16:4), revealed to us here on earth and in the flesh, quite unexpectedly from a dark Tomb. And 2. as we move forward through this Nativity Fast, let us focus on the Star that is leading us to Bethlehem, where He is revealed to us here on earth and in the flesh, quite unexpectedly from a dark cave. By the prayers of the Theotokos, Savior, save us!