(With Gusto!) Alleluia! Christ is risen!! (The Lord is risen indeed!)
What a glorious evening! The Great Vigil of Easter is one of my favorite liturgies in the church year. Not only do we hear the stories of God’s saving acts throughout history, leading up to the ultimate act at the empty tomb of Christ, but we welcome the four newest Christians into our family. What I love most is that this liturgy, this worship we are a part of tonight, is one of the most ancient rituals of the church. We are connecting ourselves to nearly two thousand years of history, and two thousand years of followers of Jesus Christ who have gathered on the eve of Easter Sunday to hear the stories of God’s work in the world, to baptize the newest converts to the faith, and to share in that holy meal around Christ’s table. We join the faithful throughout two thousand years of history as we proclaim the Good News of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, where God broke the bonds of death, bringing us into as a close a relationship as we can get with God.
It is no irony that it was at dawn on the first day of the week that the women went to the tomb. What God accomplished in the resurrection of Jesus required a new start. It was so monumental that it couldn’t have happened in the middle of the day or the middle of the night on some random Tuesday. No. It had to happen at the first light of the first day of a new week.
It was like the ultimate “reset” button was pressed on human-kind’s relationship with God. Something new has taken place. Something unlike anything God has ever done before. In the resurrection of Jesus, the bondage of sin and separation from God is broken once and for all. In the resurrection of Jesus, eternal separation from God is no longer the only option. The One True Light that enlightens everyone had not only come into the world, as John wrote, but shines so brightly that we cannot help but see the way to God.
The light of Jesus’ resurrection continues to shine in the world every day. Despite the darkness of our world, despite abject poverty in our own city, wars in far away places, and broken relationships in our own families, we have all been equipped to be the Light of Christ in a world that so desperately needs it. Resurrection is not some distant, isolated idea. It is God acting in such a way that everything is turned on its head. Resurrection is the invitation to live as Jesus lived: sharing meals with those whom we might never be seen with otherwise, offering healing and hope to the hopeless, and helping to bring bring new life to those whom society has discarded. Through the power of the Resurrection, it’s not just Jesus who does these things, but it is Christ acting through each of us.
We each carried this little light into the service tonight. If we were strictly following the two thousand years of history, we would have carried candles, each lit from the new fire we started in the courtyard. But instead, we have glow sticks, and they will keep on being bright for many more hours. Even when the glow sticks aren’t glowing anymore, the light of Christ will continue to burn in each of us. We all have the chance to carry this light into the world each day. We carry that light of Christ by living as Jesus lived and striving to see people the way Jesus saw people. We have the chance to make every day an Easter celebration by allowing the power of God to act through us to carry on the Gospel message. God is doing a new thing on this night, something that has never been done before.
Happy Easter! And may each of us continue to be the Light of Christ in a world that so desperately needs it.