Easter Vigil 2010
April 3, 2010
Vigil of Easter 2010 John 20 April 3, 2010
No, tonight is not a night for a long sermon. Though it is, says all the worship guides on the Vigil, a night for proclamation of the resurrection – for this is the night of all nights! The liturgy says it well, “This night celebrates the night which alone was worthy to know the time and hour in which Christ arose again!” This night gathers people around the world to give special thanks for the light of the resurrection of our Savior – reflected in the burning of our Pascal Candle.
It is “this night” that we remember every time we light this candle – as we will do all through the Season of Easter and at every Baptism, and at every funeral service (which themselves are services of resurrection.) Easter is not a day, or even a Three-Day event – or even just a seven week season. Easter is each day as we live by the power of Christ crucified and risen. It is no longer we who live, but the risen Christ and the power of his resurrection who now lives in us.
The stories we had heard tonight – and the rest of the 12 – some of which we will hear next year – wash over us as signs of God’s renewal. As we affirm our baptism in Christ, and welcome new members, we are bound together with all God’s ancient people through these stories – made large among us through the gracious gifts of art and song.
And finally there is the Easter Gospel according to St. John. John’s resurrection story has two tempos in it. There is the fast running back and forth from and to the tomb and there is the tempo of grief. Grief slows us down. It blinds us. And look at how many times Mary’s grieving is mentioned.
As with the watery stories of Noah and Jonah, here too water is present in Mary’s tears. Mary is so blinded by her tears and grief that she doesn’t even recognize Jesus. It is hard to see straight when we are bent over and your eyes are flooded.
But then Jesus does this amazing thing. It’s the same thing Jesus does for the blind man in John chapter 9 where the blind man responds when he hears Jesus’ voice. It’s the same thing that happens for the sheep in John 10 where he calls his sheep by name and they hear his voice. The same thing happens in John 11 where Jesus calls to Lazarus and he comes out of the tomb alive. And here in John 20, Jesus calls Mary by name and she recognizes the risen presence of Christ.
In Holy Baptism we too are called by name and are given a new name. “I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” We are named a part of the Trinity. This is now our identity. We belong to God and to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. It is no longer we who live, but the risen Christ who now lives in us.
We affirm our baptism tonight – along with those who are making public profession of their faith and joining us as members of this local expression of Christ’s body the Church. As we share in this Baptismal Affirmation tonight, hear your name called through the waters. As Jonah and Noah and Ezekiel and Zephaniah and Mary Magdalene were brought to new life, so too are we! We are saved through the floods of life, restored to God’s call and direction, breathed into – dry bones no more, brought home and gathered in.
God is good! Life has overpowered death at the cross. Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.
Let us sing together again the Gospel Acclamation as we process to gather around the font.
“You have put on Christ. In him you have been baptized. Alleluia! Alleluia! “
+Pastor Peg Schultz-Akerson, to the glory of God
Faith Lutheran Church, Chico, CA