On the Feast of the Resurrection, there is a rite that takes place in the church that we all like to attend; it’s called The Resurrection Enactment. This is when all the lights in the church are turned off and altar curtain is closed with Abouna inside the altar. The deacons standing outside engage in a melodic dialogue with Abouna inside. What does this all mean?
The lights turned off in the church symbolizes the darkness that we were in before the resurrection of Christ. The main area in the church symbolizes the world and the altar symbolizes the paradise, which is why the curtain is closed during this time to signify the closed doors of paradise (Genesis 3:23). The priest standing inside the altar symbolizes the cherubim standing in the Garden of Eden guarding the tree of life which is the body of Christ (Genesis 3:24). The two deacons standing outside the altar with the resurrection icon symbolize the angels that accompanied Jesus in His life on earth and ministered to Him (Matthew 4:11) and the resurrection icon symbolizes Christ Himself who is ascending to paradise. The rest of the deacons symbolize the spirits of the righteous ascending into paradise with Christ.
The deacons standing outside then chant back and forth with Abouna proclaiming the good news that Christ is Risen, Truly He is Risen. The deacons outside
then say Psalm 24:7, “Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of Glory shall come in.” The angels accompanying the Lord are telling the angels guarding the doors of paradise to open the doors because Christ the King of Glory is coming in.
The priest, symbolizing the cherubim in paradise, then replies, “who is the King of Glory?” (Psalm 24:8). This a rhetorical question due to their amazement of this event. The deacons outside, symbolizing the angels accompanying Christ, then say, “The Lord majestic, strong, powerful, mighty in battles, He is the King of Glory” (Psalm 24:8).
At this point, the curtain of the altar symbolizing the doors of paradise is opened; the lights are turned on symbolizing the light of the resurrection that has enlightened the whole world. The two deacons holding the icon of the resurrection enter the altar along with the other deacons. This is Christ opening the doors of paradise and entering in with the spirits of the righteous.
The deacons then do a procession around the church 3 times while chanting “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life”. This symbolizes the apparitions of the Lord and his saints to different people after the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:5-8) (Matthew 27:52-53) as we said the main area of the church (the nave)
symbolizes the world. The procession then concludes with one more round in the altar symbolizing Christ’s ascension into heaven after 40 days.
This is a wonderful time to reflect on what God
has done for us, opening the doors of paradise again and enlightening us with His Resurrection.
Who does the priest symbolize?
Who do the two deacons standing outside symbolize?