Many people seem to miss the point of Orthodox worship. Having returned from Liturgy, I've had people ask me, "How was church?" The question, in theological terms, is nonsensical: we go to church not to have a good time, but to worship the undivided Trinity. Moreover, Orthodox worship together in one voice in a service that is almost wholly sung; there are no musical solos as one might find in a Protestant service.
The real exception to that is the homily, or sermon--as it should be. The homily is the time for the priest to encourage his flock and respond to their spiritual needs. But at Pascha, something different happens. Pascha is so joyous, with its end to fasting; the Christ, the Messiah was dead, and now is risen, "trampling down death by death," and humankind is once more in communion with God. It is so joyous that all the priests give the same sermon, originally written around 400 A.D. by St John Chrysostom, as though all the Church were one disparate organism (as it is), bursting with ecstasy until it pours forth in one accord:
If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived therefor. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour1, even as unto him who has wrought2 from the first hour.
And he shows mercy upon the last3, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast4. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior's death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.
O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown! Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen! Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life reigns! Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave! For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.
1See St Matthew 20:1-16.
2See Pinker, Steven. Words and Rules, 63. "Here is a small mystery: What is the verb that goes with the past-tense form wrought, as in The Watergate scandal wrought great changes in American politics, and the participle form in Judges 23:23, What hath God wrought!, quoted by Samuel Morse in the first intercity telegram? . . . Most people have no idea what the verb is. Many guess wreak (based on an analogy with seek-sought) or wring (based on an analogy with bring-brought), but both guesses are wrong. The answer is work . . . ."
3cf. St John Damascene, "But, O Lord, whether I wish it or not, do thou save me. For if thou savest the just, it is nothing great; and if thou hast mercy on the pure, it is nothing marvellous: for they are worthy of thy mercy. But upon me, a sinner, shew the wonder of the thy mercy . . . ."
4The Vespers service in the first week of Lent has: "This is the true fast: the casting off of evil, the bridling of the tongue, the cutting off of anger, the cessation of lusts, evil talking, lies and cursing. The stopping of these is the fast true and acceptable."