Easter Vigil ~ April 4, 2015
preached at the Lutheran Church of Framingham
Is anyone here a Lord of Rings fan?
Do you remember what the tree creatures are called? Ents.
Do you know anything unique about their language–Entish? It is very long-winded. As far as we can tell, there are no Entish words for “yes” or “no” because all questions would be answered with a long monologue.
Tonight, we have been like the Ents.
We have taken our time as we told the story of God and God’s people.
We have given time for our eyes to focus and ears to perk up.
We have given ourselves an opportunity to hear again and again examples of how our God delivers God’s people from danger and delivers them to new life.
We have taken the time to say our collective name–not just “Christian” or even “people of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”–but we have taken the time to acknowledge that all the salvation stories over the millennia are part of our story, part of our identity, indeed part of our name.
For names have power.
I have pointed out from time to time when main female characters in the Bible aren’t named…think about the women to anoints Jesus in Mark’s Gospel. Jesus says that she will be remembered and honored throughout history for what she did for him, but we do not even know her name.
However, in John’s account of Easter morning, not only is it a woman who is the first to encounter the risen Lord, and we know her name, but it is Jesus saying her name that provokes her recognition of him. It is not until Jesus says to her “Mary” that she realizes that the man she is speaking to is Jesus, and not the gardener.
Names have power.
Knowing a name is the first step to relationship and understanding.
And not only did we take the time this night to remind each other of all that is included in our collective name, but we will very soon welcome three new members into that name: Nathan Hunter, Sarah Elizabeth, and Jacob Alan. They will be baptized this night and we will welcome them into God’s family and our collective name.
Although their names might change or they might go by nicknames at some point in their lives…their name “beloved child of God” is not one that will ever change, can ever be lost, or forgotten by God.
Jesus calls out to each of us “Mary, ” “insert names here,” in the waters of our baptisms and the lifelong process of learning about our name, our identity, coming to know God begins. This is just one more night, one more step, one more part of our name.
So let us join together in celebration that our Lord has hung the cross, conquered death, and is risen from the dead.
Alleluia, Christ is Risen! Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia!