Journey through Salvation Hstory - Easter vigal
I speak to you in the one God of all eternity; I speak to you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Amen
What an incredible journey of scripture we have tonight
Tonight at this Easter vigil service we have a collection of scriptural stories comparable to no other all year
Five readings – that bring us along for an incredible journey
True, in advent we do have the lessons and carols service in which there are often nine readings – but they tell a different story
They are leading up to the single message of God’s greatest gift to the world – Himself
The incarnation – Emmanuel – God amongst us
The birth of the baby Jesus
But tonight the five readings tell us five different stories
Five stories with one incredible over-arching theme – God’s salvation history
Now History is a dangerous word to use – for some of you it sounds too much like school and your eyes might immediately gloss over
For others the subject ‘History’ is a fascinating look into the past
History can be about: people long gone, with cultures that you might not understand and with no apparent connection to you
But tonight – Brothers and Sisters in Christ
History is exciting for all
Tonight – the broad sweep of history that we share together is OUR family history – all of us
Tonight, we recall how God loved and saved his people throughout history."
– it is five stories of God’s ‘salvation history’
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
Chaos – formless void – darkness
God the creator brings shape - transforms – orders – creates
God’s new history will bring blessings and a secure place for all the insecure and adrift ones!
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness
Humanity is created - in God’s image – God shares of Himself
Notice – ‘our image” and “our likeness” – God is already a community
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. 22The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.
The 'salvation' of the Hebrews through the crossing of the Sea, against all odds, proves the supremacy and sovereignty of God to all.
It is a story that defines a people…
The story of Exodus reveals a radical criticism and dismantling of worldly power.
In the beginning the Egyptians are in full power. They act as masters of their own destiny.
By the end they are … Washed away
While the Hebrews walk under God’s protection on dry land
And 20Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. 21And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously (pause)
Now close your eyes for a moment and enter into a vastly different place, a place where there is not a living soul to be seen – but stretched out in front of you is a valley, with rocky small mountains surrounding it and at the bottom there is no beautiful stream with lust vegetation – but it is filled with human bones
Now enter into the vision that prophets is given – that the prophet is instructed and empowered by God to create – a vision of the world's redemption
“Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.” (pause)
From the dry bones brought to life, we come to purpose of our vigil – we come to the greatest salvation story of them all
We come to a place in OUR history where the Lord reveals to us who is truly the savior of the world
In words of the ‘book of common prayer’ we have the:
Once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice. Oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world
We have the victor over Death
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
The presence of the two Marys in the garden is a message understandable to all of us
Consider what they were there for – what they were planning to do?
To pay their respects to the dead
Their presence is a message of lack of faith that Jesus will be resurrected
For the women, they are shocked and surprised by the stone being removed by the lighting-like-angels – as anyone would be
They are told that He has been raised from the dead – to come and see where Jesus lay- then to go and tell others
Even the dedicated followers find it difficult to comprehend this victory over death!
So they are met by Jesus, himself
Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Shocking – they are told a second time ‘not to be afraid’ – and to go and tell others where they can meet the risen Lord
Finally - In our service tonight there are four parts – The service of light – the readings of salvation history – baptism and the restatement ‘by all’ the baptismal covenant – and the Eucharist
It is the last two elements of our celebration tonight – in the Baptism and Eucharist that the passage from Romans addresses – it is how we live out our faith
Perhaps no other letter in the New Testament is more thorough on the subject of sanctification than Paul has in Romans
Paul establishes the basis for Christian behavior.
He explains to us how we are to live transformed lives
3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
the ministry of the Risen Christ -- God's kingdom - starts NOW.
It starts among us.
It starts wherever two or three gather in Jesus' name to live into the reality of Jesus' work in the world.
With the imagery of baptism is explained by St. Paul and is fresh in our minds - It starts in the baptism of David that we will all take a role in tonight
It continues each time we affirm the baptism covenant
And each time we make the statement of faith in our creeds
It continues each time we celebrate communion – sharing in Christ’s saving act
We have the opportunity to participate in the spread of God's kingdom in ways more powerful than words -- in doing justice, in proclaiming peace, in embracing the outcast.
God has in Easter given us all the proof we need that the time has come:
Death no longer has dominion over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
Christ is Risen! Alleluia! Thanks be to God!