Wednesday, September 29, 2010

upon those in the tombs, bestowing life

Oh, how timely it was for me to read this!

"Have you ever been or are you now caught in some sin or old habit or old way of thinking from which you have not yet escaped? Some anxiety or troubling behavior? ...[T]hese troubles can feel like tombs. They are things into which we have fallen, and we have never been able to pry the door loose. There are all sorts of tombs into which a person can fall long before we are physically dead. During the Lenten season, for example, many Christians pray a prayer that mentions four such tombs. 'Oh Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.'

...Especially in our day and age, tombs are everywhere. Substance addiction, behavioral addiction, a desperate need for approval, a feeling of never doing enough, a fixation on the shape of one’s body, lack of self-discipline, money troubles, lustful thoughts or actions, eating disorders, lingering resentments, judging others, feeling judged, excessive internet usage, peer pressure, an irritable spirit, a lingering illness, and the list goes on. Every one of these is a tomb that drains the life out of us....For us, our own tomb is any crippling behavior over which we feel powerless...


There is a song, quite popular in Orthodox churches this time of year, springtime. “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs, bestowing life.” There is a hope that flows from the resurrection of Christ and that hope pours as much into the tombs in which we have fallen now as it does into the tombs in which we will be placed within after our last bodily breath. When we sing this hopeful song, we have in mind not only the graves then that swallow the dead, but the tombs now that swallow the living. Imagine: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death-by-death and upon those in the tombs of laziness, upon those in the tombs of craving approval, upon those in the tombs of depression, of physical pain, of anger toward God, of 'fill in the blank.' Upon those in these tombs bestowing life. The hope of resurrection is as much present as it is future, as much now as it is then...


From this hopeful truth flow key questions asked by that face in the mirror. What are your tombs? What are the sins, behaviors, habits that are draining the life out of you? Can you name them? Can you admit that the temptations are stronger than your own strength to resist them? Can you refuse to lay blame for them on anyone or anywhere but yourself? Do you trust God to raise you, finally, from the deadness of these tombs? Are you willing to cooperate with him, to do your part to be delivered, to do your own soul work? Can you imagine a day when you love freedom more than you love what is keeping you from being free?...

What a hopeful truth. Sin disfigures a person, but grace makes him beautiful. Sin disfigures a person, but grace makes her beautiful. Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death-by-death and upon wherever you feel most lost in your life right now, there, bestowing love."

- Fr. John Oliver, from the Hearts and Minds podcast

You can listen to the full podcast here. I highly recommend it.

2 comments:

tacy said...

i have many tombs... materialism, laziness, selfishness, perfectionism, impressing others, love of pleasure. i am convicted and yet strangely relieved reading this. thank you.

Amy Rebekah said...

i read the podcast instead of listening to it. very simple, insightful, and hopeful. thanks for the link!