Easter Sermon

30 April 1978
Theme: The feasts of the Church   Place: London Parish   Period: 1976-1980   Genre: Sermon

Before I read the Epistle of Saint John Chrysostom and speak in Russian to those of you whose language it is, and to the many, the millions actually who are listening during this night to our broadcasting, I would like to say a few words: to you and to all those who also in this country and in all countries of Western and Northern Europe are listening to our message.

When God created man He offered man life eternal, His own life to be posse­ssed and shared. And man answered God’s gift and offer by betrayal and forced upon Him death, death upon the Cross. The Father has delivered into our human hands His Only begotten Son, His beloved One as though He was saying to us: I have nothing else to give and I give you all. I possess and now I have nothing left. No, because in response to this gift of God mankind in thousands, in milli­ons, in the course of the last twenty centuries has responded to the Gift of God, to the trust of God, to His faith in us, to His hope that His sacrifice would not be in vain, and indeed God would enter into this world, took flesh, become one of us, and endured the death which we, men, inflicted upon Him, conquered death and through death itself opened a road for us into eternal life.

And this is the feast which we keep today. The greatest joy and the greatest triumph of God and of man, of joined victory and on joined rejoicing. Indeed the Feast and the event of history without which there is no Christianity. Saint Paul would have remained a ruthless persecutor of Christ and His followers had he not met face to face on the way to Damascus the Risen Christ, Christ alive, who had died on Calvary. And he says the truth when he proclaims that if Christ be not risen, then we are the most miserable of men, because all our faith, all our hope, all our life is built on nothing but a delusion, on a lie.

But it is neither a delusion nor a lie; throughout 20 centuries witnesses have stood up and said that Paul’s experience, St. Paul’s knowledge of the Resurrection is true, that truly He Who died on Calvary was God Himself become man, and that He rose truly in the flesh from the grave, transforming the world into a completely new world, a world in which the last word is not death but life; not hatred but love not fear but daring and exhilarating endeavour. And this is why Christ coming to His disciples on the evening of His Resurrection says to them, ‘As my Father has sent Me, so do I send you’. Before these words, before Christ appeared to them, the disciples were in terror because they thought that life, love, truth had been defeated. And now they went into the world fearless and daring because they knew that they were possessed of eternal life, that Christ was sharing with them His life, the life of the risen Man Jesus and the life (?) of the eternal begotten Son of God.

And they were not afraid of those who could take away ephemeral temporary life from them, because they knew that nothing could take from them life eternal, and this is the Feast in which we rejoice, this is what we sing, this is what we sing, this is what we have been proclaiming tonight with all our faith and all our knowledge of God and of Christ.

Thanks to God, thanks to those who have believed and have proclaimed the truth which we now can share, the life which we can now also possess. Many have received this message in the last twenty and more years from this church, many have rejoiced in the faith of Christ, many are who have worshipped here, many there are who have read books which were born from the life of this congregation and come to life, received support and consolation and hope. And this is why I address myself now, beyond you who have already heard me speak of it, to all those who are now listening, wherever they are, with a cry for help: this church must be saved, this congregation must be able to continue to preach the Gospel, to proclaim the faith not only here, but in Russia and in all these countries of the Slav language. We must continue to bear witness to life and to love and to hope and faith in man, but unless you, all those who hear us help us to save this church, it may return to secular use, because we must buy it and we cannot do it unaided; so help us if you treasure what you have found here, what you have read in books, what you have met in the sympathy and the love of people and in the stillness, in the serenity and exaltation of our services, in the quiet and steady witness of Orthodoxy. Help us by praying for us that God give us steadiness, courage, faithfulness to save His church, but help us also, if you can, materially by sending here, to my name, whatever widow’s mite you can spare, and if you can, give at a cost to yourself, because it will be returned a hundred folds, not to you but to other people who need God’s words, who need God’s love. This church, in Ennismore Gardens has been for many a place where they were recalled and renewed. Help us to continue to serve everyone who is in need without distinction of colour (or/of) creed, simply because there is a need and it must be met.

Listen to audio: Watch video: