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Easter Vigil Homily 2018

Easter Vigil
Genesis 1:1-2:2
Genesis 22:1-18
Exodus 14:15-15:1
Isaiah 55:1-11
Romans 6:3-11
Mark 16:1-7
March 31, 2018

We start in darkness tonight to remind us how before “God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland and darkness covered the abyss.

Our blessing of the Easter fire reminds us of how God brought light into the world.  We hear the story of creation from Genesis.  There are people who look at this creation story and reject it as disproven by science.

They are missing the point of the story.  The story is not trying to explain the “how” of creation by rather the “why”.  This story as we find it in the Bible today was first written down over 3,000 years ago.  The story is even older than that.  If God had tried to explain all the how/science, the people back then would not have understood it.

To understand the point of this creation story, I think the key word in the opening sentence is “formless.”  This story is given to us to try and teach us that it is God that brings order to the universe.

Scientists can talk about “Big Bang” but I think there is too much order and beauty to say that God is not behind it all.  The balance of nature, things like plants breathing CO2 and breathing out O2 while humans breath in O2 and breath out CO2. The way male and female come together to reproduce in all animals and humans cannot be a random chance of science.  God has brought order to the universe.

So goes the story of creation.

Then, God did not choose to create and walk away.  God has remained involved in what he has created.  This is the story of salvation history.  It is the story heard in the singing of the Exsultet and in our readings tonight.

From the story of creation, the Book of Genesis tells the lineage from Adam and Eve to Abraham.  Abraham was a faithful and righteous man to whom God promised descendants as numerous as the stars.

The problem?  Abraham and Sarah were a hundred years old but God fulfilled that promise in giving them Isaac.  With them well beyond childbearing years, clearly this happened by God’s grace.

Then, “God put Abraham to the test.”  He told him to offer Isaac “up as a holocaust.”  Amazing!  Even more amazing, Abraham is willing to do it because his faith is so strong that he is willing to do whatever God asks of him.

Genesis continues with the lineage from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob and Joseph who end up in Egypt.

That brings us to the story of Exodus.  The Israelites had become slaves in Egypt until God sent Moses to rescue them.  God performed ten “plagues” revolving his power before leading the Israelites across the Red Sea to new life.

Just as the Israelites entered new life by crossing the Red Sea, we enter new life through Baptism.  Just as God saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, Jesus will save us from slavery to sin but I am getting ahead of the story.

The lineage of the Israelites who become known as Jews by Jesus’ time continues through the Old Testament but to be a child of God and to hold Abraham as a father in faith is not just a matter of genetic ancestry.  It is a matter of faith.

We see in our reading from Isaiah that the Lord invites all who are thirsty to “come to the water!”  Salvation is God’s gift to us.  We cannot buy or even earn our salvation for we hear the words of the Lord, “Why spend your money for what is not bread, your wages for what fails to satisfy?

We cannot save ourselves.  We need to let God shape us and form us.  So often, God’s people have tried to live their way but it doesn’t work out.

We don’t have to figure it out.  God has.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.

The people continued to sin.  God always loves his people and rescues them when they cry out to him.  This brings us to Jesus.

We are sinners.  That’s reality.  We must always try to learn the truth of Jesus Christ and to live it but when we fall short, we count on Jesus.

Jesus knows how much we need him.

This is why he gives us his Body and Blood in the Eucharist so that we might become what we eat.

This why he gives his life for us on the Cross.  He is the one “without blemish.”  He is the lamb sacrificed for us.  That’s the Passion of Jesus.

That’s where our story stopped yesterday as we celebrated Good Friday.  Please note that I said that is where the story “stopped” not “ended” for the story of salvation did not end with Jesus’ death.  It did not end when Jesus was laid in the tomb.

It continues in today’s gospel.

The tomb is found empty!  Jesus Christ is risen today!  Alleluia!

Jesus was not defeated in his Crucifixion.  He gave his earthly life so that we might have eternal life.  Jesus’ life did not end in earthly death and neither does us if we follow Jesus as the way and the truth and the life.

I thank Jesus for all he does for us.


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