Easter Vigil—Year C—March 30, 2013
Preached at the Lutheran Church of Framingham
Let the words of my mouth and the mediations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord, our strength and redeemer. Amen.
This is the night!
This is the night that we begin in the midst of darkness…in the darkness of Maundy Thursday…the darkness of Good Friday…the darkness of the tomb.
But in the midst of that darkness we are reminded that there is a great light that overcomes that darkness. We light the new fire as the sun sets, as the darkness of night begins, as a symbol of Christ’s light conquering the darkness of sin and death.
And so we begin our celebration on Easter. But we do not jump right to all the A-words, grand organ music, beautiful lilies, and bright lights. We first take pause in order to tell the story of God’s people. With the twelve readings, we trace the salvation history, we hear the stories about God savings God’s people so many times before.
We are reminded that we were created to be in relationship, with God, each other, and creation.
We hear about God making covenants, keeping promises, and leading the way.
We hear about God using water to bring about new life.
We hear about God offering salvation to all.
We hear God’s wisdom that guides lives.
We hear about God renewing hearts, spirits, and bodies.
We hear about God gathering humanity together.
We hear about God clothing God’s people with a new garment, one of salvation.
We hear about God delivering from the death of the sea and from the heat of a furnace.
And we hear about how God, after descending into the depths of hell, raises Christ from the dead so that we might share in the salvation, that our stories might add to the salvation history that is already written.
This is the night that we sit around the preverbal campfire and tell the stories of our past, our ancestors, our identity. We take the time to say the long name that we abbreviate “Christian.”
But we do not just share the stories, we enact that history of salvation as well. Once we have told the story, we add to it. For this is the night that we baptize Faith Vivian. We add to the family of God, to the story of salvation. This is the night that is my favorite time to baptize children or adults, because when we invoke the stories of water and salvation in the prayer during the baptismal rite, they are fresh in our minds. We have just heard the stories of the waters of creation, the waters of the flood, and the safe crossing through the Red Sea. We have just heard the explanation of the baptismal garment of salvation. We have just heard it declared that salvation is freely offered to all. We have just heard the long history of salvation, and so we can hear the words prayed and promised during Faith’s baptism all the more clearly. And that hopefully helps us hear the words that were said our own baptisms, whether we personally remember them or not, all the more clearly and trust in the promises of God all the more.
And it still does not stop there, because this is also the night when we gather once again around the table to share in Christ’s body and blood, focusing on the triumph of the cross. We gather together to hear God’s Word for us and to eat the meal that is spread before us. This is the night that out of the darkness we emerge together to share a foretaste of the feat to come.
This is the night that we hear about God’s action in the past, and we participate in God’s actions in the present.
This is the night that we take the time to say the long name of God’s people, and we take the time to enact the name “Christian” through the sacraments of Baptism & Communion.
This is the night when we see once again that the light of Christ always conquers the darkness.
This is the night when we come together to shout aloud again ALLELUIA! Christ is risen! Christ is Risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.