Saturday, April 19, 2014
Homily for Holy Saturday - Vigil of Easter
Genesis 1:1 – 2:3; Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13; Exodus 14:10 – 15:1; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Jonah 3:1-10; Daniel 3:1-30; John 20:1-18
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
It is appropriate that the first celebration of Easter begin with the words “In the beginning God,” for God was, and God is, the beginning and the very Creator and source of all that is. The rest of the Holy Scriptures are the account of man’s rebellion and fall into sin, and the wages of his sin, even as God worked through His fallen creatures and creation ever towards their re-creation, restoration, and renewal in His Son. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Omega to that Alpha, and yet, it doesn’t end there, but it is a new beginning. Friday’s “It is finished” proclaimed the end of God’s work of re-creation in His Son. Jesus observed the Sabbath rest on Saturday, today. And now, tonight at sundown, we are gathered here in vigil anticipating the dawn of a New Day – the First Day of the New Creation in Jesus Christ, a Day upon which the sun will never set, the Eternal Eighth Day.
This is the Day into which you have been baptized. The life you live in Christ will never die. Though your body will die and return to the dust from which it came, your spirit is a new creation. When Christ returns, He will raise up your body as a new creation fit for the new and immortal spirit you already are. The proof and guarantee of this is Jesus’ own bodily resurrection and ascension to the right hand of His Father.
In your Holy Baptism, the Father spoke His creative Word once again and His Spirit hovered over the waters to bring something out of nothing, to bring you out of death into life. Once again the flood waters poured over you, both killing and quickening, as you were raised up a new creation. Like Israel before you, you were delivered safely through the Red Sea while your sins and sinful nature were drowned with Pharaoh and his hosts and died. Though you were lifeless and dead as dried-out bones, the Spirit breathed life upon you and into you and gave you a heart of flesh in place of your heart of stone. Jesus is the greater Jonah who, after three days in the tomb was raised to preach the Gospel of forgiveness to you lost and hopeless Ninevites that you would be turned in repentance and live. He has delivered you out of the fiery furnace of His Father’s wrath against your sin and has invaded and proclaimed victory over both death and hell.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! This is the Day that the LORD has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Christ has made all things new! From now on, regard no one according to the flesh! Christ has died for all, so all have died, and He is risen that all may live in Him. Let this be told in all the earth! Let this be witnessed in your lives, words, and deeds. Go! Flee from His empty tomb and tell all His brothers and sisters He is risen, just as He said! But, whatever you do, don’t let tomorrow be like yesterday. Yesterday is dead and buried; tomorrow is risen in Christ!
Do not be afraid. You are not alone. You are never alone. You died in Jesus death’ and were buried; in Jesus you also have been raised from death. The stone of sin and guilt that would have kept you in your tomb has been rolled away, removed, never to be placed again. This is what your baptism means. Your new life is in communion with Christ. You are His body even as He is your head. And, not you alone, but all the Church. In truth, Jesus died and was raised for all men; pity those who do not know, believe, and confess.
Do not be afraid to live freely. That is, do not permit yourself to be burdened and weighed down by cares and anxieties and fears concerning this material world, your possessions, food, clothing, shelter, and money. You have died to their enslavement; you are free in Christ who is all in all. “Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
Do not be afraid. You are not alone. You are born again into a new family, those who hear the Word of God and keep it. You are your brother’s keeper, and by your brother you are kept. One holy Name you bless. You partake of one Holy Food. This is the feast of victory for our God. The Lamb who was slain has begun His reign. Alleluia! You are born of His riven side in holy cleansing water and blood. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Let us rejoice and be glad in Him today, and tomorrow, and forever.
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.