Saturday, March 30, 2013

Homily for Holy Saturday–Vigil of Easter

Creation - 4th day


John 20:1-18; and the following Old Testament Accounts: The Flood; Israel’s Deliverance at the Red Sea; The Valley of Dry Bones; Jonah Preaches to Nineveh; The Fiery Furnace

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The mighty works of God are done in and through and to the darkness, in the shadow of night, obscured by cloud. This is not because God is darkness or shadow or cloud – “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” – but, these elements of darkness are chaos, the abyss, the dwelling place of Leviathan, evil, the devil and the fallen angels. These God overshadows and brings into order by means of His creative Word, which is Light.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He brought order to chaos and spoke Light into the darkness. The darkness fled before the Light of God, for wherever the Light shines, there is no darkness at all. In this way, the darkness of chaos, evil, and the devil is controlled by God, used by God against its own fallen will, for the good that God determines. For, the devil is God’s devil, and is only able to accomplish that which the Lord permits.

Yet, darkness fills not only the vacuum of space and the heart and mind of evil, but also the hearts and minds of men. By the time of the generation of Noah, God “saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Therefore God cleansed the earth with water that the race of men might once again multiply on the earth, subdue it, and have dominion over it, beginning with eight souls who were not so completely closed to the Light of His Word. Noah and his family were blameless in the sight of God, not because they were blameless, but because God knew their faith and counted them as blameless. Therefore He saved them by the washing of the flood – the same flood that drowned and killed the wicked and unrepentant.

Darkness was also made manifest in the nations of men, none more than Egypt under Pharaoh. The Egyptians worshipped the Sun God Ra, whom they falsely believed to be the source of light, and thus they were a people of darkness. The land of Egypt and its Pharaoh came to symbolize hell and Satan which keep the children of God in bondage and slavery. Therefore, through His servant Moses, God lead His people out of bondage and captivity through the Red Sea on dry land while closing the waters upon the wicked Egyptians. Both this washing and the washing of Noah’s flood, the inspired writers of the New Testament teach refer to the washing and the rebirth of Holy Baptism, wherein God’s Word of Light releases us from the devil’s bondage and raises us in new birth as children of the Light.

Ezekiel witnessed a prophetic vision of the power of God’s creative Word of Light over the forces of darkness and death as he prophesied God’s Word, breathing His life into a valley filled with dry bones. Though they were seemingly defeated, dead, and scattered to and fro, God’s Spirit gathered and assembled them, raising them to life, a great and vast army of Light. Likewise, Jonah too witnessed the power of God’s creative Word of Light in turning the men of wicked Nineveh to faith in God even though he resisted and would not have mercy on them himself. And, when refusal to bow to the darkness of idolatry caused Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be cast bound into a fiery furnace, the Word of God protected them from the fires of darkness.

Indeed, the mighty works of God are done in and through and to the darkness, in the shadow of night, obscured by cloud. And, this is the night in which our Lord Jesus passed over from death to life. This is the night when Jesus, the New Moses, lead God’s people out of the darkness of bondage and captivity to sin, death, and Satan by means of the cross. This is the night in which God’s Passover Lamb was raised victorious over these enemies, still bearing the wounds of His sacrificial suffering and death, now as glorious scars and holy wounds. This is the night of the New Creation, when once again Light penetrated and chased back the darkness – Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, the Light no darkness can overcome. Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk, therefore, as children of the Light.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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