Great is the mystery of godliness

GREAT is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

1 Tim 3:16.

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An Orthodox monk gazing upwards towards the light

"Glory to your kingdom! Glory to your Assumption, only lover of humankind!"

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The Orthodox term “the Assumption of Christ” for today’s feast is Ἀνάληψις (análipsis), which is derived from ἀναλαμβάνω (analamváno), meaning to take or receive up, or to take to oneself.

It carries the sense of joyfully welcoming someone into one’s company.

AND we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in (ἀναλαμβάνειν) Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in (ἀναλαβόντες), and came to Mitylene.

Acts 20:13-14.

Christ did not merely ascend into heaven: he was welcomed joyfully into the blessed company of heaven, the angels and the righteous whom he had liberated from death and Hades, he was taken to their hearts as he was taken to the Father.

WHILE Angels marvelled at the strangeness of your ascent and Disciples were amazed at the awe-inspiring nature of your lifting up, you went up as God with glory, and the gates were lifted up for you, O Saviour; therefore the powers of heaven marvelled as they cried aloud: Glory to your descent, O Saviour! Glory to your kingdom! Glory to your Assumption, only lover of humankind!

At Matins. Translation from Anastasis.

There is also a sense of welcoming someone into one’s company specifically a powerful ally, someone who joins our band to our great advantage and strength. Paul wrote to St Timothy,

ONLY Luke is with me. Take (ἀναλαβὼν) Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

2 Timothy 4:11.

And in a similar spirit, this word ἀναλαμβάνω is used for catching up armour and weapons.

WHEREFORE take unto you (ἀναλάβετε) the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. … Above all, taking (ἀναλαβόντες) the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

See Eph 6:13-19.

So that our company is immeasurably strengthened. As St Paul wrote,

FOR I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39.

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Psalm 23(24):7-10

LIFT up your gates, ye princes, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the king of glory shall come in.

Who is this king of Glory? the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

Lift up your gates, ye princes; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the king of glory shall come in.

Who is this king of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is this king of glory.

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