Monday, March 28, 2005

Easter Vigil Sermon 2005

Easter Vigil 2005

Alleluia! Let us praise with our lips and in our lives the God of Life and Resurrection.

As a child I never had an Easter Vigil to attend. Being raised a very Protestant child we had Palm Sunday and then Easter the next. Never did I attend a Good Friday service. Never could I partake of communion as a non-baptized member of the community. You see, children couldn’t be baptized in my tradition. You had to wait til you were a teenager.
So for me tonight is a special treat. It is a way to be present to the tomb, to be present to the high points of God’s working and promises to humankind and to see what happens to them and how God makes good on those promises. To enter the mystery of God’s love in a way which no other service of the Church year allows for.
We have just heard the lessons which form the core of our belief system—which shape our understanding of God. A God who creates good things, a God who makes agreements with humans and honors them when humans don't, a God who desires faith over idolatry, a God who delivers slaves, who makes dry, long -dead bones live and rise and walk. A God who finally conquers death forever.
This, our final day of the Triduum marks one more place of identity for us as Christians and reminds us of who we are and what we are about.
We are first a people of a story, a book, a tale so outrageous that one can only accept it in faith. Like the ancients we sat in darkness around a sacred fire and told the stories of our spiritual ancestors. We are shaped by story. And it begs the question “what story are you shaped by”?
If you ponder it, your life is shaped by some primal story about yourself. Who you are and who you become depends largely on what story you have accepted about yourself and decided to make true. Sometimes others create that story and hand it to us for our acceptance or rejection. Sometimes we live out stories that are other's about us without knowing we can edit this story at any time--add large blocks of copy of remove them.
As Christians, we stake a claim on the story of Jesus is also our story. It is who we are in the world. It is embellished and expanded upon by all the stories we just heard.
These are also stories of a people, a community and not just individuals. We must feed on these stories as a community, ferreting out new meanings and new understandings of ourselves as a community. And allowing them to shape how we approach our common life. In our leadership we must see them and hold fast to them and claim them even when its tough to do so, even if it seems irrational or ridiculous to do so.
So in the Triduum we discover we are people shaped by a story.
Secondly we are people who struggle to believe. Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zephaniah and the Mary Magdalene all struggled with what it meant to live in the power of a relationship with the living and unpredictable God.
Here in former darkness we have the opportunity to see the light, to grasp God’s great love for us and God’s great desire to be in an authentic relationship with him.
If we get nothing else from the last three days we should understand that God will go to great lengths to be connected to us and to have us love God back with but a small percentage of the love with which God loves us.
I am always humbled by that fact--- knowing full well how imperfect my love can be, knowing how often I love conditionally and knowing how incompletely I give myself over to God most of the time.
Yet, tonight we celebrate a God who loves us still—in spite of these imperfections in loving God back. A God who reaches for us always only to have us (more often than not,sometimes) not reach back. Who after telling us to love each other, who after suffering abuse and death, can forgive us without exhaustion and forever.
We saw last night how ugly we can be, tonight we may be able to grasp how beautiful we are to God. And maybe we can look upon God and grasp, like a lover looking into the face of the beloved, the intense beauty of God.


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