Easter Vigil 4-15-2017

St Barnabas, Norwich VT

Sermon by Rev Jennie M Anderson

Lord, make us stewards of ourselves, that we may be servants of others, Take my words and speak through them, take our minds and think through them, take our hearts and set them on fire, for Jesus’ sake. Amen. Good morning! Welcome!

The light is trickled in… it comes in with a single voice calling out and other voices replying to it… it is small but so much more of a presence of hope than darkness… that tiny light is enough to make the huge darkness unable to overwhelm us! …then that little tiny fragile light is… that light is transferred to one another… that light of hope is brought in again and sustains us through the first baptism. It doesn’t cost us our own light to pass it on to another person’s candle. Just the time to make the gesture. Then, just after the baptism or the promises of the covenant, and blessing the water, we encounter the brightest light the biggest sound, the greatest life-affirming light, clapping of bells, the sound of the powerful organ and all the voices of the people singing with joy this is the sight and sound of the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Alleluia Christ is Risen! The Lord is risen indeed… Alleluia!

Matthew’s story of the resurrection is very dramatic… earthquakes and angels descending from the sky… lightning… and that magical angel rolling a giant stone and then sitting there on top of it to tell what he has to say… that is this version of the story of the resurrection… awesome drama and a way to tell a story that teaches us how important it is… that love defeated power even to the point of death… love wins!

Light and time. Two themes for this Easter season, and of course love, always love. It seems to me that having light to live by and the time in our lighted-life to be in the world with love are two of our richest gifts from God. I find myself so often squandering these gifts. I so love the rituals of the church that teach us the importance of these things… of candle light, the sharing of and passing around light. The way the light is both a symbol of life and love. Think of how we use candles at home, at the dinner table, when the power goes out, when there is a wedding or another kind of party. And especially, for a birthday, the light of a candle is a symbol of the gift of life and love. The other theme that has been on my mind for this Easter is that of time… the gift of time from God.

As I mentioned earlier, time is so precious, it is very important to consider how we “spend” our time. Jesus, it is said, had about 33 years on this planet. How did he spend his time? Can you imagine him spending time working for hours on Facebook learning how to organize as a teenager? Can you imagine him spending time having to work at carpentry with his father and learn how to be in the community where he grew up in Nazareth? Can you imagine him spending time getting ready to go meet his cousin John at the river Jordan? Just imagine how Jesus spent time? There is so much mystery in this consideration that it makes me wonder. I’ll bet one of the things that Jesus spent a lot of time with is hearing and telling stories. Stories are help people to grow in a relationship with God and each other. Stories are how we learn who we are and whose we are. Do you tell stories? Do you tell the ones you live with stories? “How was your day today, honey?” or do you not have enough time to tell stories… Do you take the time to tell the kind of story that reveals to the one you are sharing with that God is love and that God loves you? How do we celebrate God’s gift of time?

Light, life, love, the mystery of time and the truth of a well told story.

Easter is the celebration of the promise that love is alive in the world and cannot be killed… Easter is the promise of new life, new light and a new time all flowing forth from within the very heart of the universe. The promise that surely after darkness there is light; and that within the deepest betrayals lies the possibilities of forgiveness.’ I now, right now and forever, invite you into this community of hope, this deep and abiding way of life, this way of following Christ into the new light of the new day with great joy and celebration.

Let us pray. We exult in your love, O God of the living, for you made the tomb of death the womb from which you brought forth your Son, the first-born of a new creation, and you anointed the universe with the fragrant Spirit of his resurrection. Make us joyful witnesses to this good news, that all humanity may one day gather at the feast of new life in the kingdom where you reign for ever and ever. Amen.