Rainbow Choir in the Cave of Milatos
On May 6 I was lucky enough to be present at a special event in Milatos cave, where Cretan Christians were slaughtered by the Turks and Egyptians.
The “Ouranio Toxo” (“Rainbow”) choir from Agios Nikolaos and the Protestant Church of Heraklion organised a prayer evening in memory of human suffering, both in the past and today.
People of different countries and doctrines gathered to listen to the hymns and a sermon by Father Christian Reich in three languages: Greek, English and German.
The unique atmosphere of the cave, the harmony of choral voices and the meaningful words spoken, as well as the good food and wine we shared afterwards at the café in Kounali, contributed to a wonderful evening of love and devoutness. It made one wonder why such events are not organized more often, attracting more people.
I give the English text of the sermon here, as the least I can do to thank the organizers of this moving evening:
There are places, where you don’t recon the presence of God.
So much horror, fright and terror rules the world.
We ask: “How can God allow this?”
Thus many have lost their faith. Others have overcome such a “hell of death” with their strong belief.
In this “cave of death” of Milatos we celebrate an evensong.
Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans and Orthodox christians. United we sing and pray, that incidents like in 1823 may happen never again.
Instead of asking: “Why does God tolerate that?” We should be asking, “Why do humans choose to act that way?”
Therefore this chapel has become a place of remembrance, admonition and praying.
Where is God?
Is He in our churches? Is He at the United Nations in New York? In Rome? In Constantinople? Is He in the slums of Bombay? Along with the rulers in White House or Kremlin? Is He in the prisons of Guantanamo? Or Alikarnassos?
Was God present in the ghetto of Warsaw, was He present in the concentration camps of Buchenwald, Dachau and Auschwitz? In the inferno of Stalingrad?
Was he in the monastery of Arkadi and in the cave of Milatos?
Where is our God, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ?
He has been, and he is still present at each of these places- a mystery – invisible, inconceivable and devine, startling, shocking and moving .
But our God is not with those, who pain, torture, and kill.
Not with those, who neglect the freedom of their fellow creatures.
He is not with those, who abuse their power to suppress the poor and the weak, who exploit others for their own profit, He is not with those who distort the truth.
Our God has come to earth, to become a human like we are.
He has come to us – Not because he needed us. Not because he desired anything from us, Not to rule the world, But to serve instead.
He did not roll out political programs, raised no economical claims, enforced no social changes, because all this will vanish.
He did not sweep the Romans out of his country, He did not break the power of the Jewish priests .
Our God has done more, much more:
He lived among us as a human, He gave to us an example, what real life means. He shared our lives, He was loved and hated, Admired and despised, Celebrated and tortured to death.
And even those, who were called his friends, they did not understand him.
Completely free, Jesus lived for charity.
He gave hope to the troublesome and burdened, to the despised and desperate ones. To them He gave love and confidence, and faith, that conquers everything.
Loyal to his assignment, also a brother and friend, Jesus made his way – Consistent till he died at the cross, Joined with everyone, with the happy ones and with the poorest of the poor.
Where ever we go with Him, in joy, in love, in grief and utmost loneliness, He shows us, where God is, and that he absolves us from all afflictions of this world and sets us free for eternal life.
The Orthodox Easter liturgy says:
“Christ has risen from the dead, He has conquered death through his dying And donated life to those who are in the grave.”
Christ has risen! He has truly risen! Halleluja!
If there is something like music from heaven, Then it should be heard at that time, on Easter morning.
All the world should join in, young and old, happy and sorrowful:
Joy, you companion of the dark,
brother of sorrow,
bigger than all
you move the times.
Joy, from the heart of God
Sent into our time,
Like a flood cover my light
And my sorrow.
And the peace of God, which is higher than all our senses, May save your heart and soul in Jesus Christ.
Read more about the Cave of Milatos