I love old things that are made to last. I am facinated with old furniture that is finely carved, or a tool well machined with a fine balance. I am also drawn to the early writings of the church for the same reason. The early church fathers wrote with great thoughtfulness. They crafted their writings not only to bear the scrutiny of scholars, but in a way that was sweet to the ear. One of my favorites of the early Church is St. John Chrysostom. st.johnchrysostom He was appointed Bishop of Constantinople by Emporer Constantine early in the 5th century. He was a great preacher and used his pulpit to battle the powers of evil that came against the church. He was outspoken against Christians who enriched themselves at the expense of the poor. This eventually caused him to go into exile and death. St. Chrysostom was a master of metephore and and picture language.
Let me share with you a short piece of an Easter message by St. Chrysostom, so that you can judge his "craftsmanship" with words and meaning for your self.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it. He destroyed Hell when He decended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Hell took a body, and discovered God. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh Hell, where is thy victory?
Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Death is not good. It is an advarsary that none of us can escape. The world thinks of death as the ultimate insult to mankind. However, Scripture tells us that death is only a transition from the temporal to the eternal. Hell is the real insult to us. Hell is like being torn out by the roots from the good soil of God's presence, and being cast away. Yet Christ endured the agonizing death by crucifixion, and the unimaginable suffering of Hell, for us!
The joy we share at Easter is that Jesus over came both death and Hell. His resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith. Our gravestones are not the final word; only a notice that we have left the earth to return to our heavenly Father. We no longer fear death, oblivion, or Hell. We are free from worry about the "here after". For all eternity we are liberated. The cross of Christ was "built to last"!
I hope you feel like standing on the pew this Easter Sunday and shouting HALLELUJAH!