“The light of Christ illumines all” (Presanctified Liturgy)
The first reading ends. The Royal Gates open. The celebrant appears holding aloft a candle in one hand, the censer in the other. He faces the people of God and chants: “The light of Christ illumines all.” The Word of God, the Logos Who with the Father and Holy Spirit were from the beginning of everything, the same Son of God is from the baptism of true believers alive on the altars of our hearts. By a gradual spiritual transformation through prayer, fasting and meditation, we are made aware of it—in epiphanies of insight the light of Christ shines in our minds and souls. In Him we recognize connections in Genesis, Exodus, Proverbs and Job that we hadn’t noticed in previous readings: His entry into the world, the Son of God becoming Son of Man when His light shines on events recorded in the Old Testament.
Oscar Cullman in Christ and Time has described how the “Primitive Christianity” understood [and in our case continues to understand] the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to be the mid-point of the history of salvation. When we read the Bible and study Church history with Christ in mind, everything becomes clearer. When the grace of the Holy Spirit hidden in the deepest parts of our souls is set free by our cooperation with the Spirit, new wonders emerge. Our hearts and not only our voices sing: “Glory to Thee Who has shown us the Light!” Our hearts become an Upper Room where we greet the One Who says: “Peace I give to you, My peace I leave with you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.”
Holy Spirit, help us to crush the heads of demons that continue to distract, confuse and frustrate us, preventing us to rid ourselves of the baggage of passions we schlep around. Train us to recognize what is harmful to our souls, and the means to take in order to get rid of it. Soften our hearts with prayer, meditation and Scripture; so that the Lord Jesus can gain entry and allow His radiance to illumine the dark places that we may not even realize are impeding our union with Him, You and the Father. He, Jesus, the “Light of the world,” abides in us. He desires to brighten our hearts and shine through us - if only we not only welcome Him but become ourselves beacons of Light, agents of His glory in the world.
To live in the Spirit is to live no longer for ourselves but rather for God and for our fellow humans. When our hearts come alive in Christ through the Holy Spirit, we recognize a calling to action that replaces exclusive care for ourselves. Life takes on new meaning as opportunities to share the Lord with others and let the Light of Christ shine in dark places so that we offer our hands, minds, hearts and bodies for His ministry. Holy Spirit, help us to become players and not mere spectators on the stage of life. Give us the resolve to share our joy of the life in Christ with all that touch our lives. As the Light of Christ illuminates our hearts and clears our minds of confusion, healing our souls with the balsam of grace, inspire us to grow into advocates of Orthodox Christian truth about God, mankind and the world. Turn those who are mere passive receptacles of life’s events into active agents of Jesus Christ. Empower the powerless to conquer whatever demons of darkness impede their spiritual development. Guide the guileless, liberate the self-defined losers from self-pity and despair, challenge the lethargic, encourage the half-hearted, and turn our sights first into our own hearts, then out onto the world which You with the Son of God and the heavenly Father plan to rescue and redeem by the cooperation with us, Your humble servants.