August 9, 2020
Kimisis Tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church
Port Jefferson, NY
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am delighted to be with you today, especially as we draw near to the celebration of your community’s Feastday, the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. We are yet basking in the glow of the Feast of Transfiguration, which like the Κοίμησις of the Theotokos, is a foretaste of our own Resurrection from the dead.
These two feasts, the Μεταμόρφωσις and the Κοίμησις, go together because they bring together the truth and the proof of our eternal life in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through a powerful conjunction of liturgy, hymns, Scripture, and prayer.
In the Transfiguration, the Lord appears to His Disciples as He truly is, glorified even before the Resurrection, to show them that even if He suffers the Cross, Death, and Burial, in His Person ‘is life, and His life is the light of every human being.’[*]
And in the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, we behold the promise of ourResurrection brought to fulfillment. This feast of the Virgin is the anticipation of our joy and everlasting life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Thus, the two feasts, Μεταμόρφωσις and Κοίμησις, reveal the truth of our future Resurrection, and the proof is none other than our Panagia herself!
So today we have gathered, on this Sunday after the Transfiguration and before the Dormition, to celebrate and to affirm our faith, as we say in the last article of our Creed:
I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come.
I want you all to think about this for a moment. This really is an extraordinary affirmation! We may say it over and over again in our Divine Services, and we say it first – or it is said for us – at our Baptism, but it is always a powerful declaration of the mystery of our eternal life in God.
Perhaps we should be more mindful when we say it, because it is an act of Faith to speak these words, and we should say them not only with our lips, but with our understanding as well, and in our hearts.
The Dormition of the Theotokos demands that we pay such attention, for she endured a human death, but was granted eternal life by Her Son as a guarantee for us all.
If you think about it, our affirmation of Resurrection and everlasting life is very much like Peter today, who answered the call of the Lord and walked on the water. Like the Disciples in that boat, our lives can often be very tempest-tossed. We waver and are unsure of ourselves. We face so many challenges: the pandemic and this difficult economy that we are living through right now, are just the two most recent.
But the Lord asks us to look beyond our present circumstances. He invites us out of the safety and often false security of our lives, which are symbolized by that boat of the Disciples.
Our Lord Jesus Christ invites us to walk on the water, to experience the miracle of the Resurrection in our hearts long before we shall know it at His Second and Glorious Coming Again! And like Peter before us, it is only as we keep the eyes of our soul on the Lord Jesus, that our faith sustains this belief in our immortality through God’s grace.
The moment we take our focus off of Christ, we begin to sink, just as Peter did. He became afraid of the waves and the winds. We become afraid of all the troubles of our lives and of this world. But we were meant to walk over the waves, through the gales, and over the troubles of this life. We were meant to experience the foretaste of the Resurrection now, in this life. That is the entire purpose of our glorious liturgies, and especially the Pascha.
Therefore, my beloved Christians, during the days leading to our “Little Pascha” – the Κοίμησις of our Panagia – may we find our feet and our faith willing to walk on the water, and go forth to the Lord with Peter.
Through the intercessions of the Holy Theotokos and all the Saints!
[*] Cf. John 1:4.