The new liturgical year in the Church begins with the first of September. We all feel the cycles of this earth in the seasons, holidays, our work schedules, the school schedule, etc. These earthly cycles demand our time, attention, and energy and we thank God for each day that we are given. As the new liturgical year comes to us we are reminded that this is not all there is to this life. These seasons and cycles are a part of our life but there is something more. There is something that seems to be waiting patiently beneath the surface. There is a life that is available to us that is not so much separate from the cycles of this world but that fulfills them, sanctifies them, and transfigures them into that which is true and life-giving.
In the hymnography of this day we hear that He who inscribed the tablets on Mt. Sinai now receives the book of the prophet and reads aloud the words that we see above from Isaiah. Christ has come to “preach the Gospel to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Christ is the fulfillment of all that is and will be. He has come to show us the way to the true reality of what we have been created for. Fr. Alexander Schmemann says in his book, For the Life of the World:
“Centuries of secularism have failed to transform eating into something strictly utilitarian. Food is still treated with reverence…To eat is still something more than to maintain bodily functions. People may not understand what that ‘something more’ is, but they nonetheless desire to celebrate it. They are still hungry and thirsty for sacramental life.”
Though our life can, at times, seem utilitarian and mundane, there is “something more.” Christ enters into the routine cycle and seasons of our lives and He fills it with Himself. We don’t stop the everyday realities of our lives but we invite Christ into them and ask Him for His Grace, His mercy, and His strength to faithfully live a life in the way we have been created to live.
We invite Christ into our life by following His commandments in any given situation. If someone offends us we forgive, if we stumble and sin we get back up, confess, and repent of our sins, when we see someone else sin we show mercy and do not judge, if someone is in need we help, when we eat we give thanks to God, if it is time to pray we pray, if it is time to rest we rest, if it is time to work we work, in all things and at all times giving thanks to God. We strive to live out the life that He has offered to us through His words and in His example. By living in this way we take the cycles and seasons of this world and allow them to be sanctified by God. Life for us then becomes True Life.
0 Fashioner of all creation, Who in Thine authority hast appointed the times and seasons: bless Thou the crown of the year with Thy goodness, 0 Lord, preserving in peace Orthodox Christians and Thy city, and save us through the prayers of the Theotokos.
Troparion of the Indiction Tone 2