Easter greetings of Metropolitan Elia of Oulu.
Our Orthodox Church is perceived as the church of Easter, and rightly so. The proclamation of the Lord’s Resurrection certainly stands at the heart of our witness. The news of the Resurrection was told first to the women who went to see Christ’s tomb. To their confusion, they did not at all find a buried Christ, but in the burial cave they encountered an angel who announced to them Christ’s rising from the dead. The women ran to tell what they had heard: Christ has risen from the dead! Since then, the message of the Resurrection has been carried/taken, in all languages, to all the world. The Serbian saint Nikolaj Velimirovic has said, “By his Resurrection Christ conquered sin and death, destroyed the dark kingdom of the Devil, freed the enslaved human race and broke the seal of the greatest mystery between God and human beings.” The significance of the Resurrection is so great that we are not able to conceive of our faith without it. The Resurrection is the reason for eternal joy and wonder and a real source of power. The observance of Easter in the Church’s life is not limited only to the first two days, but it is present every day. In fact, the Easter season always continues until the Lord’s Ascension, each Sunday of the year being a “little Easter.” Without the Lord’s Resurrection, all would be futile. Life according to the faith would function perhaps as a guide to a good life or as moral teaching. We would be good people, but something essential would be missing. When we mirror our faith through the miracle of the empty tomb, all the pieces fall into place: the Old Testament prophecies of future events, the forgiveness of sins, the restoration of the eternal bond between human beings and God, and the gift of eternal life. God gave all this to fallen humanity through Christ’s death on the Cross and his Resurrection.
Unfortunately, despite Christ’s Resurrection, fallen humanity is the reality. Wars, racism, bullying and killing are the stuff of everyday life around the world. In no way are we in Finland immune from these things; misanthropy has, deplorably, become part of Finnish everyday life. But on Easter, as we stand in our churches, candles in hand, we are convinced that God’s Kingdom conquers sin and evil. We believe that the love of God for human beings is so great, that no evil can impede it. For at that very moment all creation is filled with light, hope, and faith for something better, because Christ rose from the dead and death is defeated! Easter does not separate us from one another, but joins us into one. Easter does not separate us from one another, but joins us into one. For this reason, Easter is the joy of joys, the delight of delights, and thus we greet each other joyfully, saying:
Kristus nousi kuolleista! Totisesti nousi!
Kristas kaggöödi jamm’jest! Tuodi kaggöödi!
Kristus är uppstånden! Sannerligen uppstånden!
Христосъ воскресе! Воистину воскресе!
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Elia, Metropolitan of Oulu