Easter Vigil 2015

Easter Vigil 2015
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on. And when from
death I’m free, I’ll sing on. And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing his love
for me, and through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on, and through eternity
I’ll sing on. (Sung)
That’s the final verse of “What Wondrous Love Is This”, our heart song for
this liturgy of three days. On Thursday, we were invited to reflect on this
wondrous love in the ordinary “stuff” of life. We were invited to encounter
this wondrous love in the days of our lives as the world turns. (Thanks,
Mom!) And in the life of Jesus, the ordinary “stuff of life” becomes the
“staff” of life, bread broken and shared, His body given for us. The everyday
water of life becomes the Wine of Gladness. His day-to-day service is
summed up in a simple gesture of washing of feet.
What wondrous love is this, that made the lord of Bliss to live his life in love
for my soul.
And last night, Deacon O’Dwyer asked the question: How is God’s love
wondrous in the shadow of human suffering?
As Ronny said last night:
By the nails of the cross, Christ bound our human nature to the life of
God. What wondrous love indeed. That God would enter our chaos.
That God would provide a pattern so that we might know how to love
and how to be loved. And in assuming the depths of our humanity on
the cross he left us the mandate to do the same.
Christ’s humanity gave him the power to die. And in dying he gave us
the power to live.
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the saving
cross for my soul?
And here we are again, taking the third step towards Easter. Probably more
like a giant leap—of faith. Brothers and sisters, what we are saying and
praying and singing and dancing tonight is anything but ordinary. It is
“Something Else”. Something Else, Indeed!
Eric, Whitney, Jenna, Colby, we hope and pray that this Something Else of
our faith in Jesus Christ as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of
Life has brought you consolation and challenge. We hope and pray that your
already rich lives of love have been made even richer because of your walk
with Jesus. At the beginning you were only ready to take baby steps, to be
very tentative about coming to belief in him, but tonight you take more than
a giant step, you take a gigantic leap of faith with this community.
And I ask you:
Are you not aware that the claim we are making tonight is that death
is rendered powerless, that LIFE is the promise and pattern of our
present and future? In Christ, all is redeemed, restored, regenerated,
rejuvenated, re-membered.
Now that takes a leap of faith! How do we believe in the Easter message of
hope, joy, peace, love when innocent lives are mercilessly destroyed because
of their faith in Jesus Christ? How do we believe in the Easter message when
life is more chaos than calm, more cruel than compassionate? How do we
believe in God’s Eastering in Jesus Christ and in us when life is hell on earth
for so many?
But are our questions tonight very different from the ones that the women
who went to the tomb of Jesus asked themselves? How can it be that the one
whose violent and cruel death on a cross we witnessed be…. BE? ALIVE?
No wonder they fled from the tomb. For terror and amazement had seized
them and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. As I said in my
Easter Vigil homily six years ago:
Fear and amazement? In the Greek it’s tromos kai ekstasis. Trauma
and ecstasy. Something happened to these women that awakened their
deepest fears and their most exquisite joy. The world had been turned
upside down and was spinning around and around and out of control.
The world was off its axis of evil and sin and death and a new world
of love and sacrifice and Life with a big L was replacing the old. In
and through the dying and rising of Jesus.
The days of our lives are lived somewhere between trauma and ecstasy.
There are days when our fears and anxieties about the future create a barrier
between us and God, when the senselessness of human suffering is a
scandal, a stumbling block, a gigantic stone that will not budge. Until
someone rolls away the stone and all obstacles to faith in the Risen One
crumble before our eyes and all there is is the Ecstasy that comes from
knowing that Love is more powerful than death. What wondrous love is this
that says, you have nothing to fear. I AM here with you. I AM.
And now from death I’m free, I sing on, we sing on. And now from death
we’re free we sing on, and now from death I’m free, we’ll sing his love for
me, and through eternity we’ll sing on, we’ll sing on. And through eternity,
We’ll sing on. (sung)